The Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Osaka Industrial Association agreed Wednesday to draw up a concrete merger plan by the end of June, officials of the two groups said.

The accord was reached during a meeting of an eight-member joint panel charged with establishing the necessary procedures for the integration, the officials said.

The integration is expected to be implemented in April 2003.

Panel members confirmed that the integration is aimed at bolstering the entities’ capability to submit policy recommendations to the government, while strengthening their influence, the officials said.

Panel members include the chamber’s chairman, Wa Tashiro, and the association’s chairman, Shinichiro Ryoki.

The association’s members recommended that the integrated body not eliminate programs that have been devised and overseen by the industrial association, the officials said.

The association was part of the chamber until 1914, when some members, mostly in the manufacturing field, broke away and established their own group. Around 80 percent of the association’s member firms retain memberships in the chamber.

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