Some 93 participants from 26 countries attended the event which took place on 16-17 May, in Nadi, Fiji, hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

“Our hosting of the ISO/COPOLCO meeting is another commitment of my Government’s will to enhance consumer protection and enforce standards nationally, and to collaborate internationally,” said Prime Minister Bainimarama.

“I must congratulate ISO/COPOLCO for its unwavering commitment to promoting consumer interests and ensuring they are addressed at a global level. For the past 33 years, ISO/COPOLCO has made a tremendous contribution towards policies that strengthen consumer safety through standards development and the promotion of fair trade and environmentally safe products.”

He added that consumers were among the first to call for the development of standards for environmental management, resulting in the ISO 14000 series. Consumers were also at the forefront of ISO’s decision to develop an International Standard on social responsibility (ISO 26000).

Addressing the needs of all stakeholders – including consumers – is key when developing policies and standards to ensure multi-level engagement, credibility and tangible outcomes, explained the Prime Minister. Not only does this ensure market-relevance, but enhances consumer confidence, while enabling goods and services to circulate freely within and across borders.

But the Prime Minister warned, “This requires all countries to commit and adhere to internationally acceptable standards and practices.” He emphasized that in a today’s globalized trade and commerce practices, there must be international collaboration, citing as an example the ISO/COPOLCO plenary.

“Given the increasing complexities and relevance of consumer related issues, such as fraud and the trading of counterfeit products, this week’s meetings are very timely for consumers around the world,” he concluded, highlighting the value of these discussions to enhancing global standards and practices, while giving impetus to national systems.

Thanking the hosts, ISO Vice-President (policy) Sadao Takeda said, “It is proof of your great commitment that despite the damage caused by the recent floods in your country, you have offered us a warm and excellent welcome.”

Mr. Takeda then went on to highlight the benefits of the ISO system as a medium for seeking solutions on behalf of all stakeholders, including consumers. “What makes ISO so effective is that it provides a non-political, non-partisan platform. Standards are developed through open, transparent processes by representatives of the people that need them, implement them, are affected by them – and who can review and continually improve the results of their implementation,” he said.

Drawing attention to the valuable role of ISO/COPOLCO Mr. Takeda concluded, “Consumers are both a compass and a driving force for standards development, your discussions and recommendations during this plenary will help strengthen ISO's efforts.”