The Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary, Mr Shaheen Ali hosted a delegation from the Solomon Islands for discussions on current and future cooperation for the development of Solomon Island’s consumer protection, competition, standards and metrology policies and laws, on 31 August 2012.
“The Solomon Islands delegation was led by Mr Doglaus Alex, Consultant Price Control together with Director Consumers Affairs, Mr Oliver Jino and Mr Elijah Gui, Secretary to Price Control and are on a fact finding mission in Fiji”, Mr Ali said.
“The delegation spent two days with the Commerce Commission to study their pricing template, inspection processes, and competition law”.
The Solomon Islands delegation was impressed with the Fijian Competition Policy and will use it as a model for drafting their policy and laws. The delegation indicated that the Solomon Islands consumer laws need to broaden the focus in line with the Fijian laws to encapsulate all aspects of consumer protection, competition and pricing.
The Permanent Secretary further stated that “the Ministry has provided assistance to other Pacific Island Countries such as Kiribati and Tonga through attachment in the area of trade measurement or metrology and through the provision of laboratory equipment. It is important to have an efficient and effective trade measurement infrastructure to ensure that consumers get value for their money and there is fair competition in the market”.
“In addition, countries such as East Timor, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands have been assisted in through the Consumer Council of Fiji” added Mr Ali.
“The Fijian Government is an advocate of regional approach in tackling consumer protection and fair trade to overcome the region’s lack of resources, infrastructure and capacity. In order to achieve the vision of a single market or an economic union, the region needs to ensure that the laws impacting on regional trade, commerce and investment are compatible if not similar, hence cooperation and collaboration in this regard are vital”.
“At the ISO/COPOLCO (International Organisation for Standardisation’s Committee on Consumer Protection) and the PASC (Pacific Area Standards Congress), Fiji managed to successfully underscore these concerns and achieve outcomes to the benefit of the region”.
Mr. Ali stated that the ISO/COPOLCO, hosted by Fiji in May 2012, agreed to the formation of Pacific Islands Consumer Network (PICN), which will include members from the Pacific Island Countries. This is a significant achievement because non-ISO countries (i.e. most of the Pacific Island Countries) can be members of this Network. The voices and concerns of the Pacific Island Countries on consumer protection and standard will be taken up by the PICN to the ISO, through the Asian Network of Consumer Organisation (of which Fiji is a member).
In the area of consumer and trade standards, Fiji is also a member of the regional body Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) and with PNG is the only representative from the region.
“In line with the outcomes PASC annual meeting of 2012, held in Yeosu Korea, Fiji will liaise with its Pacific Island neighbours to develop an action plan for a regional approach to standards infrastructure and training in the region”, Mr Ali said.
“Fiji will continue to use foras such as ISO, PASC and MSG to discuss and find solutions to the Pacific consumers concerns”.