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Contact: Primus Hutchinson

Thursday, October 23, 2003 - The just concluded 17th World Congress for Consumers, hosted by Consumer International in Lisbon-Portugal last week, has been hailed as a great success for regional participants.

That announcement came from the Director of Consumer Affairs in the Ministry of Commerce, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Philip McClauren. McClauren, one of two participants from Saint Lucia - the other being the President of the National Consumers Association, Andrew Antoine - says, the Caribbean was able to engineer the support of the umbrella organisation to address pertinent needs of the region.

During the conference, a special meeting was convened to look at and examine, some of the opportunities for consumer agencies, in-terms of promotion of consumer interests and consumer welfare, McClauren said.

According to McClauren, the Caribbean delegation met with the Director for the Office of Latin America and the Caribbean, where issues such as challenges and developments, including strategies for the way forward were discussed. One such strategy deals with fortifying the Caribbean’s relationship with UNCTAD.

“We are looking at training opportunities with the University of Vermont, which is an initiative we have gotten on the way through the Ministry of Commerce in St. Lucia, and we have examined training opportunities in other areas. We also believe there is need to build a stronger network in the Caribbean region and we must move quickly to establish the Caribbean Consumer Council,” McClauren said.

The idea was also mooted that a discussion paper be drafted on the role of consumer agencies in the region, to assist such agencies in the implementation of their obligations pertaining to the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.

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