Regional Steering Committee
Our region is vulnerable to shocks beyond our control. It continues to suffer the effects of the great recession of 2008/2009 and the natural disasters of 2016-2018. Now in 2020, because of COVID-19, the regional economy is already contracting with shutdowns to our main economic drivers of tourism, manufacturing, and export.
The CCC is of the view that competition and consumer authorities in the region can help mitigate the effects of the pandemic on commercial and consumer welfare. This can be done by ensuring effective communication and information sharing by key agencies with our national and regional public. The CCC therefore developed a Regional Action Plan (“Plan”), in full consultation with regional trade, competition and consumer officials, which contains collaborative strategies for national competition and consumer protection authorities in the CARICOM to address the impacts of the pandemic. The Plan centers on three pillars:
1. Monitoring: This pillar would see the activation and/or creation of online portals for regional monitoring of key products and services and interagency collaboration on mechanisms.
2. Advocacy: Encouraging businesses and consumers to report misleading advertising, and excessive pricing. Significant collaboration with relevant authorities to issue public advisories and to warn against negative trade practices.
3. Enforcement: Competition and consumer agencies are encouraged to be firm and steadfast in taking action to minimize instances where competition and consumer welfare is harmed.
To ensure implementation of the Action Plan, there are three main collaboration mechanisms:
(1) a regional Consultative Group – comprised of trade, competition and consumer officials which started meeting on April 3rd, 2020. The Consultative group is expected to meet every 6 to 8 weeks for the duration of the pandemic. These meetings will be required to raise with governments of Member States any legislative or policy changes required for optimum flexibility in competition policy and consumer protection to address the impacts on the pandemic on consumers (public, business, government).
(2) CCC- National Consumer NGO Consultative Forum – first meeting was convened on May 4th, 2020, and forum is to meet every month of the pandemic. This specific forum is to capture the on the ground needs of consumers.
(3) Steering Committee on Regional Action Plan – Convened on April 22nd, 2020 with a Terms of Reference designed to drive movement of work nationally and regionally on the Action plan. Each Action Plan pillar has designated lead agencies from around the region. The CCC is Chair and secretary of the committee. The Steering Committee includes, but is not limited to, representatives from:
• CARICOM Competition Commission (Chair and Secretariat)
• Barbados Fair Trading Commission
• Jamaica Fair Trading Commission
• Guyana Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission
• Consumer Affairs Commission of Jamaica
• Belize Bureau of Standards
• Trinidad and Tobago Consumer Affairs Division
• Saint Lucia Consumer Affairs Department.