The programme agreed upon by the sixteen Latin American Member States of UNCTAD's COMPAL III focuses on capacity and consensus building, and also reaches out to the private sector to strengthen cooperation among institutions and increase confidence in markets.
In the context of slow growth and falling commodity prices in Latin America, how may competition and consumer protection policies stimulate economies in the region? And how can UNCTAD help?
Competition and consumer protection policies build confidence in the marketplace and, in the long term, stimulate investment and demand by providing legal certainty and favourable conditions for both competitive businesses and consumers. For these efforts to bear real impact, coordination among national policies at the regional level is essential. The COMPAL III Programme, which focuses on regional cooperation between and among competition and consumer protection enforcement agencies and is funded by SECO-Switzerland, completed its first year of activities. The COMPAL III Annual Conference reviewed the outcome and impact of the programme's activities implemented in 2015-2016 and decided on the activities for 2016-2017.
As contained in the document Informe Annual (attached, available in Spanish), in the past year the activities that have had the greatest impact have been: the Workshop on Investigation Techniques on Competition and Consumer Protection (Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 22-24 July 2015); the Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Trade and Competition (Manta, Ecuador 2-3 December 2015); the V International Consumer Protection Forum (Cuzco, Peru, 15-16 September 2015); and the INDECOPI-COMPAL School in Lima, Peru hosted one course on consumer protection (15-16 June 2015) on e-commerce, and one course on competition (23-27 November 2015) on leniency programmes. According to an internal survey, Member agencies valued these activities' relevance and usefulness as highly valuable (92% satisfaction).
The Conference also decided upon the activities that COMPAL III will implement in 2016 and 2017, as contained in the document Plan Operativo Annual (attached, available in Spanish), in particular:
Workshop on Competition and Consumer Protection issues in regulated sectors, aimed at policy and enforcement coherence in competition and consumer protection in relation to regulated sectors such as telecommunications, medicines and energy. (Antigua, Guatemala, 30 and 31 April 2016)
VI International Consumer Protection Forum, which will showcase best practices for policy making in the field of trade agreements and consumer protection, new regulations for digitial markets, and will discuss the implementation of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. (Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 13 and 14 September 2016).
The INDECOPI-COMPAL School in Lima, Peru will host a course on consumer protection (23-27 May 2016) on the protection of financial consumers, and one course on competition (14 and 18 November 2016) on advocacy campaigns. These one-week high level intensive courses are offered to operative staff of member agencies and respond to capacity needs identified by members themselves.
VI Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Trade and Competition, which will bring together trade and competition authorities of Latin America and The Caribbean. The Group has adopted a new method of work based on fewer topics for discussion and greater depth, and has invited IDB to co-host the event along with SELA and UNCTAD. (Roatán, Hunduras 1 and 2 December 2016)
The Conference was held in Armenia, Colombia on 10 and 11 March 2016 and was attended by national representatives of: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland (donor) United States (guest) and Uruguay.