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Trade Associations



Trade Associations, organizations of manufacturers or business people engaged in furthering or protecting their mutual interests. Associations include professional, business, technical, and civic societies.


Trade associations are believed to have existed in ancient Egypt and China. In Europe, they came to prominence during the Renaissance when Venetian and other traders formed organizations for solving mutual political and financial problems. Present-day associations are derived chiefly from the merchant guilds of 16th-century England.

An early protective society was the London Association of Guardians for the Protection of Trade, established in 1776. The function of most of the early associations was confined to compilations of registers of bankruptcies, insolvencies, and private settlements with creditors.


A trade association may serve commercial, industrial, or protective functions. Among its main activities are the surveillances of important trade influences, such as legislation, transport rates, tariffs, laws affecting labour, and the quality, method of sale, or inspection of goods. Associations may also seek to keep their members informed of new processes or inventions and of market conditions. Other functions include insurance arrangements, encouragement of trade schools, and the establishment of selling agencies. Trade associations also maintain bureaux of employment.

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