The workshop on 5 April 2004 was hosted by the ISO member for Egypt, the Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (EOS), with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The same organizers held a training session next day on the theme, Making an impact: consumer representation in standardization, with the joint support of COPOLCO and DEVCO, the ISO committees responsible, respectively, for consumer affairs and developing countries.
Two hundred people took part in one or both events, including representatives of nine ISO member countries, Consumers International and the regional standardization organization, the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO).
ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden told participants in the workshop that ISO gives particular importance to the way consumer interests are considered and to increasing the participation of developing countries in the organization's work.
He said that in the consumer context, developing countries have the following specificities that must be taken into account:
- the need to consolidate their legal and technical infrastructure for consumer protection and information;
- the difficulty of structuring and developing a representative consumer movement, in order to raise the awareness of the general public and to be a significant interlocutor for public authorities, as well as to participate as such in the public debate on technical regulations and standards;
- the differences in the mode of consumption where average revenue per capita is low and priorities are on price and on the essential products such as food, clothing, basic domestic appliances, transportation and housing, and
- the need to protect themselves against the import of low quality goods possibly rejected by more developed countries.
Mr. Bryden added: "But globalization has brought also an important delocalization of industrial production, particularly in the area of consumer goods. Having a modern approach to standardization, a good connection to international standardization and infrastructures as well as industrial practices based on International Standards is certainly an asset for developing countries to attract investment and procurement. So, reinforcing the National Standardization Bodies, i.e. through increasing their dimension in relation to consumer protection and information, contributes to economic development and competitiveness."
Dr. Mahmoud Eisa, ISO Liaison Officer the Arab and Mediterranean region and Chairman of the Egyptian COPOLCO announced the support of EOS to other countries in establishing COPOLCO "mirror committees", for a regional COPLCO, regional consumer bulletin and other regional publications on standards related to services and to consumer protection.