Training Underway in Upgraded CARICOM Consumer Protection System

Photo: Michael Sloley Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Stephen Wedderburn (left), addresses the opening of a three-day workshop on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston, to provide training for regional consumer protection and standard officers in the CARICOM Rapid Alert Exchange System (CARREX) for hazardous, unsafe and defective goods. Looking on are: Coordinator, Hemispheric and Bilateral Negotiations, CARICOM Secretariat, Office Michelle Lowe, and Board Chairman, Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Kent Gammon.

Story Highlights

  • Regional consumer protection officers and standard officers are benefitting from advanced training in the upgraded Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Rapid Alert Exchange System (CARREX) for hazardous, unsafe and defective goods.
  • The web-based system, developed with assistance from the European Union (EU), allows consumers in CARICOM member states to alert authorities on dangerous products that are detected in the market. It covers all goods with the exception of food items, pharmaceuticals and tobacco products.

Regional consumer protection officers and standard officers are benefitting from advanced training in the upgraded Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Rapid Alert Exchange System (CARREX) for hazardous, unsafe and defective goods.

The three-day workshop got underway on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston.

CARICOM launched CARREX in 2012 in response to concerns expressed by consumer representatives over the years about the need to provide greater protection from unsafe products.

The web-based system, developed with assistance from the European Union (EU), allows consumers in CARICOM member states to alert authorities on dangerous products that are detected in the market. It covers all goods with the exception of food items, pharmaceuticals and tobacco products.

Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Stephen Wedderburn, noted that the Ministry is the gatekeeper in ensuring that substandard and unsafe goods do not enter the marketplace.

He cited the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the National Compliance Regulatory Authority as the agencies at the forefront of this effort. The CAC is the lead organisation for CARREX in Jamaica.

Mr. Wedderburn said that once fully activated, “CARREX will help regulatory authorities across the region to act expeditiously to inform those at risk in order to avoid any potential health risk, injury or financial loss not just in Jamaica but across the region.”

In her remarks, Coordinator for Hemispheric and Bilateral Negotiations, CARICOM Secretariat, Michelle Lowe, said she hoped the workshop will be successful.

“We trust that the information and the skills acquired over these next three days will prove useful and will be put into practice when you return to your respective countries,” she noted.

Ms. Lowe said all member states must work together to ensure that the CARREX regional and national networks are in place to fully implement and operationalise the system.

The workshop involves collaboration among the CARICOM Secretariat, the Organization of American States (OAS) Consumer Health and Safety Network and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Thirty-four participants and consultants from the 15 member states of CARICOM are in attendance.

JIS Social