Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 348

Posts Tagged ‘consumers’

Parliament wants to better protect consumers from unsafe products

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 28 novembre 2020

The resolution on product safety in the Single Market was adopted on Wednesday with 688 in favour (eight against and one abstention). MEPs emphasise that all products circulating within the EU must comply with product safety rules – whether manufactured inside or outside the EU – in order to assure fairer competition between companies, guarantee traceability, and provide reliable product information to consumers. They urge online platforms and marketplaces to take proactive measures to tackle misleading practices.MEPs insist that if EU rules are not respected, products that pose a safety hazard, contain dangerous chemicals, or have unsafe software must be effectively recalled from the EU market and that the market surveillance system has to be improved. They also stress that it is key to adapt product safety rules to the digital transition. Emerging technologies must be safe and secure. To guarantee this, effective checks must be developed to test high-risk products that use Artificial Intelligence, they say.The resolution refers also to the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, underlining that it is of paramount importance that products used in emergencies, especially medical and protective equipment, are safe.“Existing product safety rules have to be made fit for the digital age, since products with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence embedded in them challenge these rules. All products sold in the EU must be safe, regardless of if they are sold online or offline, produced in or outside the EU, or include emerging technologies or not. However, innovation should not be held back by red tape. We have to concentrate on closing these existing legal gaps,” said Rapporteur Marion Walsmann (EPP, DE).

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EU consumers will soon be able to defend their rights collectively

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 26 novembre 2020

The new rules introduce a harmonised model for representative action in all member states that guarantees consumers are well protected against mass harm, while ensuring appropriate safeguards to avoid abusive lawsuits. All member states must put in place at least one effective procedural mechanism that allows qualified entities (e.g. consumer organisations or public bodies) to bring lawsuits to court for the purpose of injunction (ceasing or prohibiting) or redress (compensation). This legislation aims to improve the functioning of the internal market by stopping illegal practices and facilitating access to justice for consumers.The European class action model will allow only qualified entities, such as consumer organisations, to represent groups of consumers and bring lawsuits to court, instead of law firms.In order to bring cross-border actions to court, qualified entities will have to comply with the same criteria across the EU. They will have to prove that they have a certain degree of stability and be able to demonstrate their public activity, and that they are a non-profit organisation. For domestic actions, entities will have to fulfil the criteria set out in national laws. The rules also introduce strong safeguards against abusive lawsuits by using the “loser pays principle”, which ensures that the defeated party pays the costs of the proceedings of the successful party.To further prevent representative actions from being misused, punitive damages should be avoided. Qualified entities should also establish procedures to avoid conflict of interest and external influence, namely if they are funded by a third party.Collective actions can be brought against traders if they have allegedly violated EU law in a broad range of areas such as data protection, travel and tourism, financial services, energy and telecommunication.Finally, the directive also covers infringements that have stopped before the representative action is brought or concluded, since the practice might still need to be banned to prevent it from recurring.The directive will enter into force 20 days following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member states will then have 24 months to transpose the directive into their national laws, and an additional six months to apply it. The new rules will apply to representative actions brought on or after its date of application.

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EU consumers should enjoy a “right to repair” and enhanced product safety

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 29 ottobre 2020

In a resolution on sustainable Single Market approved by 20 (2 voted against, 23 abstained), MEPs call on the Commission to grant consumers a “right to repair” by making repairs more appealing, systematic, and cost-efficient.They also ask the Commission to consider labelling products and services according to their durability (e.g. a usage meter and clear information on the estimated lifespan of a product). This would support second-hand goods markets and promote more sustainable production practices. To reduce electronic waste, MEPs insist again on a common charger system. To tackle planned obsolescence, restricting practices that intentionally shorten the lifetime of a product should be considered. According to MEPs, the corrective updates for certain digital devices must continue throughout their estimated lifespan and not diminish their performance.According to Eurobarometer, 77% of EU citizens would rather repair their devices than replace them and 79% think that manufacturers should be required to make it easier to repair digital devices or replace their individual parts.MEPs also push for more sustainable public procurement as well as responsible marketing and advertising that encourages sustainable business and consumer choices. This should include clear guidelines for products that claim to be environmentally friendly, assisted by further ecolabel certification. For example, when green claims are made in advertisements, common criteria should be followed to support the claim.In addition, the report proposes new rules for waste management, including the removal of legal obstacles that prevent repair, resale and reuse. This will also benefit the secondary raw material market.In another resolution on product safety in the Single Market, approved by 45 (no abstentions and votes against), MEPs addressed the issue of unsafe products – particularly those sold on online marketplaces. This includes products that contain dangerous chemicals, have unsafe software, or pose other safety hazards.MEPs want online platforms and marketplaces to take proactive measures to tackle misleading practices and demand that EU rules on product safety should be enforced robustly. They emphasise that compliance with product safety rules must be ensured, for products circulating in the EU and manufactured either in the EU or outside it, allowing a fair competition between companies and securing reliable product information for consumers.The resolution also addresses the safety and security of AI (e.g. supporting the development of effective checks on high-risk products embedded with AI), and calls for a revision of the current product safety legislation, such as the General Product Safety Directive and the Machinery Directive, to adapt it to the digitalisation of products.

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Artificial intelligence: MEPs want to ensure a fair and safe use for consumers

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 14 febbraio 2020

The resolution addresses several challenges arising from the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) technologies, with a special focus on consumer protection.Parliament welcomes the potential of ADM to deliver innovative and improved services to consumers, including new digital services such as virtual assistants and chatbots. However, when interacting with a system that automates decision-making, one should be “properly informed about how it functions, about how to reach a human with decision-making powers, and about how the system’s decisions can be checked and corrected”, it adds.Those systems should only use high-quality and unbiased data sets and “explainable and unbiased algorithms”, states the resolution. Review structures should be set up to remedy possible mistakes in automated decisions. It should also be possible for consumers to seek redress for automated decisions that are final and permanent. “Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions that are taken in the context of professional services such as the medical, legal and accounting professions, and for the banking sector”, MEPs underline.Parliament calls for a risk-assessment scheme for AI and ADM and for a common EU approach to help secure the benefits of those processes and mitigate the risks across the EU. MEPs urge the Commission to table proposals adapting the EU’s safety rules for products (e.g. directives on machinery and toy safety) to ensure that consumers are informed about how to use those products and are protected from harm, while manufacturers should be clear on their obligations.The Product Liability Directive, adopted over 30 years ago, would also need to be revised to adapt concepts such as ‘product’, damage’, ‘defect’ and rules governing the burden of proof, says Parliament.
Under EU law, traders must inform consumers when the price of goods or services has been personalised on the basis of ADM and profiling of consumer behaviour, MEPs recall, asking the Commission to closely monitor the implementation of those rules. The EU must also ensure that ADM is not unduly being used to discriminate against consumers based on their nationality, place of residence or temporary location.The resolution, approved by a show of hands, will be transmitted to the EU Council (member states) and the Commission, so that they take into account MEPs’ views on AI and ADM. The Commission announced that it is due to present its plans for a European approach to AI on 19 February 2020.

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Artificial intelligence: EU must ensure a fair and safe use for consumers

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 25 gennaio 2020

Bruxelles. Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved on Thursday a resolution addressing several challenges arising from the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) technologies.
When consumers interact with an ADM system, they should be “properly informed about how it functions, about how to reach a human with decision-making powers, and about how the system’s decisions can be checked and corrected”, says the committee.
Those systems should only use high-quality and unbiased data sets and “explainable and unbiased algorithms” in order to boost consumer trust and acceptance, states the resolution. Review structures should be set up to remedy possible mistakes in automated decisions. It should also be possible for consumers to seek human review of, and redress for, automated decisions that are final and permanent.“Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions” that are taken via ADM processes, especially in relation to the medical, legal and accounting professions and the banking sector, MEPs underline.
AI-enabled products may evolve and act in ways not envisaged when they were first placed on the market. MEPs urge the Commission to table proposals adapting the EU’s safety rules for products (e.g. directives on machinery and toy safety) to ensure that consumers are protected from harm, manufacturers are clear on their obligations and users are informed about how to use those products.The Product Liability Directive, adopted over 30 years ago, would also need to be updated to adapt concepts such as ‘product’ ‘damage’ and ‘defect’ as well as rules governing the burden of proof, says the committee.MEPs call for a risk-assessment scheme for AI and ADM and for a common EU approach to help secure the benefits of those processes and mitigate the risks across the EU.Under EU law, traders must inform consumers when the price of goods or services has been personalised on the basis of ADM, MEPs recall, asking the Commission to closely monitor the implementation of those rules. It must also check how the EU regulation banning unjustified geo-blocking is applied to ensure that ADM is not being used to discriminate against consumers based on their nationality, place of residence or temporary location.

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CloudMinds Launches Intelligent Smart Robot Rental Program for Consumers and Businesses

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 23 dicembre 2019

CloudMinds Technology Inc. – a global pioneer in cloud artificial intelligence architecture that makes robots and businesses smarter for the benefit of all humanity – has launched an innovative Smart Robot rental program that provides consumers and businesses easy access to intelligent cloud service robots. From natural language processing (NLP) technology that enables smart interactions and conversations in multiple languages, dancing, gestures to other advanced capabilities for entertaining guests, humanoid cloud robots can help create customized brand experiences and memorable interactions that aren’t possible with ordinary robots.The first intelligent humanoid robot available through the CloudMinds Smart Robot rental program is the popular Cloud Pepper robot – already deployed globally and making an impact across several industry verticals.
Cloud Pepper:The robot can detect human moods, use facial recognition to identify returning guests, use NLP to understand and converse in multiple languages, track demographics and analyze customer interactions. Sample applications:
Brand ambassador at tradeshows related to technology, medical or other fields.Brand ambassador and representative at special events for fashion brands and book launches. Receptionist and Information Services representative at community centers, shopping centers, airports, train stations, airports, banks, hospitals and schools. Rental availability and cost range: Rentals are available from a day, to a month, to long-term – starting at $5,500 (U.S.). More information can be found at: RobotRental.ai CloudMinds “Cloud Pepper” is based on SoftBank Robotics’ “Pepper,” the world’s first personal humanoid robot – and driven by CloudMinds proprietary and secure cloud-based artificial intelligence technology. “Brain in the Cloud”: The company’s groundbreaking Human Augmented Robotics Intelligence (HARIX) platform (or “Cloud Brain”), an ultra-secure virtual backbone intranet (“Nerve Network”) and more innovative technologies create a more intelligent Pepper robot. The overall solution reflects the company’s steadfast conviction that machines and humankind must work together to drive society forward.

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Consumers Say the Kasasa LoanTM is Easy to Understand, While Industry Studies Indicate Other Loans are Not

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 29 novembre 2018

Kasasa® revealed in a survey that the majority of consumers feel the Kasasa LoanTM is easy to understand. In fact, more than 83 percent of those surveyed said the loan was extremely or very easy to understand, despite never having experienced a product similar to the Kasasa Loan. The 2016 survey gathered results from a panel of 1,050 consumers, who responded to a series of questions about their loan preferences and habits.In contrast to Kasasa’s findings, many consumers readily misunderstand lending and their finances. A recent survey from Instamotor found that nearly 60 percent of consumers did not understand the relationship between the terms of a loan and the interest rate.Specifically related to auto financing, a recent survey by Credit Karma found that nearly half (45%) of U.S. car owners could not recall the annual percentage rate on their loan, which is the true cost of borrowing as it reflects interest and fees. One in four said they did not know their APR because they found it too stressful or confusing. Additionally, one in ten car owners could not recall the specific dollar amount of their monthly car payment and one in five did not know how many months remained on their auto loan.“Financial institutions have an opportunity to make lending people-friendly by offering a loan option that is transparent and easily understood – something that is clearly missing but greatly needed,” said Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa. “Too many megabanks, alternative lenders and FinTechs push expedited loan approvals, rushing consumers through a loan application and decisioning process they don’t even understand. And once they have the loan, they don’t understand the terms or the impact of paying it off quicker. This is not the best approach nor is it in that individual’s best interest.” The Kasasa Loan is the most transparent loan on the market today and gives consumers the ability to participate in take-backs. Like traditional loans, take-back loans allow borrowers to pay ahead on their loans to reduce their debt, but unlike other loans, borrowers can choose to take the extra payments back if life happens and they need that money back. The Kasasa Loan eliminates the fear of parting with ‘extra money’ and reinforces positive financial decisions like paying off debt early.Not only does the Kasasa Loan provide a competitive advantage for financial institutions, but it empowers the consumer to better understand their financial decisions and reduce debt. In fact, Kasasa Loans are preferred by nine out of 10 consumers over comparably priced loans, and in extensive testing, 98 percent of consumers said they would refinance existing debt at the same rate in order to get a Kasasa Loan with the take-back functionality.Krajicek added, “The bottom line is that financial institutions can provide a loan that is objectively better for the consumer. The Kasasa Loan is easier to understand and more transparent than any other loan on the market, and the take-back feature is a game changer for the borrower. With such high consumer preference for the Kasasa Loan, the only way competitive financial institutions can possibly win is to drop their rates or spend more money marketing their centuries old, commoditized loan. Good luck with that.”

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Consumers Credit Union’s New HOK-Designed Headquarters Emanates from Nature

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 7 gennaio 2018

Consumers Credit Union InteriorConsumers Credit Union, one of Michigan’s largest homegrown financial institutions, opened its new HOK-designed Kalamazoo headquarters this week. Nearly 150 employees previously working in four separate buildings moved into a 22-acre collaboration center situated among rolling hills and wooded ravines. The centerpiece: a contemporary, three-story office evoking its natural surroundings, designed to bring employees closer together while providing unmatched amenities.“Our design for the new headquarters captures and manifests the core values and sense of identity of Consumers Credit Union,” said Peter Ruggiero, AIA, design principal for HOK’s Chicago practice. “Designed to promote communication, the open, collaborative workplace recognizes its unique surroundings through its placement on the site and the access to daylight and views afforded by the thoughtfully-designed plan.” Consumers and HOK collaborated to design the 92,000-square-foot branded environment that expresses the company’s values while fostering collaboration. The building accomplishes these goals through several design strategies: Open Workspaces, Collaboration and Training: The open floor plan includes modern workstations, informal gathering spaces and a learning lab featuring the latest technology for staff training. Central Gathering Space: Employees and visitors enter through a central glass atrium with a grand staircase, connecting all areas of the building.
Wellness and Amenities: Staff can take advantage of an on-site café, coffee bar, fitness center, fitness and running trail, and expansive outdoor patio overlooking nature.
Connection to Nature: The building’s form is influenced by its surroundings, from expansive glass walls providing forest views to the intentional use of tree cover along roads leading to the workplace.
To accommodate Consumers’ future growth, HOK designed the building to be built in three phases. It can be expanded up to 200,000-square-feet based if needed. Click here to view interior photos of the new space.HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Through a network of 23 offices worldwide, HOK provides design excellence and innovation to create places that enrich people’s lives and help clients succeed. DesignIntelligence consistently ranks HOK as a leader in sustainable, high-performance design and technology innovation. (photo: Consumers Credit Union Interior)

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Seafood: Investigation into EU consumers’ attitudes shows sustainable supply is essential

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 26 gennaio 2017

fisheriesA new Eurobarometer survey on EU consumer choices regarding fishery and aquaculture products reveals that people in the EU eat seafood quite regularly, although how far people live from the sea plays a role in how often they eat fish. “This survey helps us see how Europeans choose their seafood. This helps inform our policies. We must make sure that Consumers continue to have a wide range of high quality seafood to choose from. That is why we are determined to reach targets on sustainable fishing by 2020”, stated European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.For seafood, there is a strong preference for regional, national and European origin (80%). The majority of consumers indicated that they like to try new products and species, which shows the importance and potential of diversified sourcing. Reducing import dependency by developing sustainable fishing and aquaculture in the EU is again emphasised. 68% of consumers indicated that they would eat more fish if the prices were lower.People mainly buy their seafood at the supermarket, and they look first at its appearance, then at its price and origin. Europeans trust the content of labels, especially when the information provided is required by law. 66% think the information on products is clear and easy to understand, showing that EU labelling rules are working.The survey findings are largely confirmed in a new study by EUMOFA, the Commission’s European market observatory for fisheries and aquaculture products. The study, which looked into retailers’ strategies and national campaigns promoting seafood consumption, notes the growing importance of farmed seafood products in the EU market, given the need for retailers to ensure a stable supply. The analysis also finds that various categories of consumers show common attitudes and behaviours across Member States, highlighting the potential for reinforcing the EU internal market for fishery and aquaculture products.

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Friend of the Sea first sustainable seafood program recognized

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 10 marzo 2016

commissione europeaby EU National Accreditation Body. Friend of the Sea is the first certification scheme for products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to have achieved official endorsement by an EU National Accreditation Body. This is the highest possible recognition of consistency and integrity that any certification program could aim at.
Only EU National Accreditation Bodies can carry out accreditation activities in the EU, according to the regulation of the European Parliament and Commission n° 765 of July 9, 2008. Any other private accreditation would thus be not compliant with EU Accreditation rules and possibly in infringement. Friend of the Sea is now working only with those Certification Bodies that have applied for this official EU accreditation.
“EU National Accreditation positions Friend of the Sea above any other sustainable fisheries certification program, as far as independence and credibility are concerned”, comments Paolo Bray, Director and Founder of Friend of the Sea. “We are disappointed to learn that the new GSSI benchmark will accept application of schemes not compliant with the EU Accreditation rules as this surely weakens the validity of the GSSI assessment, with a potential to mislead companies and consumers.”

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Stop geo-blocking and boost e-commerce and digital innovation, says Parliament

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 gennaio 2016

european parliamentGeo-blocking consumers’ online access to goods and services on the basis of their IP address, postal address or the country of issue of credit cards is unjustified and it must stop, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs want Europe to seize the opportunities opened up by new technologies, such as Big Data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things or 3D-printing, and to have an innovation-friendly policy towards online platforms.The 16 digital single market initiatives announced by the European Commission last May to boost the digital economy and innovation must be tabled without delay, MEPs insist.”We have ensured that this report on the digitisation of the EU economy, society and public administrations determines legislative and non-legislative action to benefit consumers and to preserve Europe’s competitive social market economies”, said Internal Market Committee co-rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE).”Europe has already missed two waves of innovation. First social networks, then the sharing economy. If we don’t want to miss the next wave, we have to look to the Internet of Things, Big Data and machine-to-machine communication. They can radically transform our economy and our legislation needs to reflect that”, said Industry Committee co-rapporteur Kaja Kallas (ALDE, ET).Increasing consumer choice and removing barriers to innovative start-ups Parliament’s recommendations to boost the digital single market were approved by 551 to 88, with 39 abstentions. MEPs want proposals by the Commission to: end unjustified geo-blocking practices, so as to improve EU consumers’ access to goods and services. MEPs welcome the proposal on cross-border portability of online content services “as a first step” in this direction,
ensure equivalent and future-proof consumer protection, regardless of whether digital content is purchased online or offline,
find innovative solutions on cross-border parcel delivery to improve services and lower costs,
remove barriers to SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups and seize the opportunities based on new technologies, such as Big Data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things or 3D-printing; an innovation-friendly policy towards online platforms (e.g. search engines, app stores) that facilitates market entry should be maintained,
review the ePrivacy directive to ensure consistency of its provisions with the new EU data protection rules.
Sharing economy
Parliament is concerned about the differing national approaches taken so far by EU member states to regulating the internet and the “sharing economy”, which offers new business models for selling goods and services online (for example, Uber, eBay or Airbnb). MEPs ask the Commission to assess the need to protect consumers in the sharing economy and, where clarification is needed, to ensure the adequacy of consumer-related rules in the digital sphere. Other topics addressed in the resolution include copyright, telecoms, VAT rules, audiovisual media, e-skills, e-government, and employment rights.

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Expert comment on Unilever’s annual results

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 gennaio 2016

Martin Kunc, of Warwick Business School, an Associate Professor of Operational Research and Management Science and researches the consumer goods industry comments on Unilever’s annual results. Dr Martin Kunc said: “The problem that Unilever is facing is directly related to the falling commodity prices. The emerging economies where most of Unilever’s profits are coming from are becoming weaker due to the decline in commodity prices.”The decline in commodity prices impacts directly on the purchasing power of consumers in emerging economies. Consequently, inflation in emerging economies, which is where consumer goods companies like Unilever make most of their profits, will decline reducing Unilever’s profits further in 2016.”While the decline of the costs of raw materials may help Unilever to reduce costs, it will not be enough to sustain profits in the face of widespread weak demand this year. Moreover, future financial problems in emerging economies will create unemployment further hurting demand and sales for Unilever. Consequently, Unilever will face a tough environment in 2016 where deflation is a real possibility to sustain sales.”

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Consumers Switch to Subcompact Cars in Russia

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 26 novembre 2014

londonLondon.  Russia will emerge as a top automotive market in Europe as consumers in the country are beginning to place emphasis on driving dynamics and are willing to pay more for advanced driveline technology features. Government initiatives – such as subsidies, scrappage schemes, and customs duty exemptions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that match localisation criteria – will further quicken growth in the Russian automotive industry. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan,Executive Outlook of Developments in the Russian Automotive Industry, finds that sale volumes for passenger and light commercial vehicles are projected to cross 3 million units by 2020. The subcompact segment will account for more than 40 percent of light vehicles sales in this period.
“Customer preference for smaller, fuel-efficient cars will push the subcompact and crossover vehicle segment to grow the fastest,” says Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation Consulting Analyst Anna Ozdelen. “Russian consumers also place higher importance on features related to powertrain and ride quality than those in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.” Further, low vehicle density and an aging fleet of cars in the country will add to the demand for new vehicles. In fact, OEMs such as Renault-Nissan will penetrate further into the subcompact and SUVs segments. The scrappage scheme introduced this year is boosting subcompact sales too. The low saturation levels in Russia compared with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have helped with continued growth. However, this demand will be tempered by geopolitical tensions in Ukraine, sanctions imposed on Russia by other countries, a deteriorating economic situation undermining consumer confidence, and market saturation in big cities. Vehicle manufacturers must turn their attention to small cities such as Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Rostov-on-Don and Kazan that will offer better opportunities. “Russia will also be a key market for in-vehicle infotainment and telematics systems,” notes Ozdelen.“Vendors can capitalise on consumers’ penchant for high quality and value packages to make inroads in the country’s automotive market.” Executive Outlook of Developments in the Russian Automotive Industryis a Market Insight that is part of the Automotive & Transportation (http://www.automotive.frost.com) Growth Partnership Service programme. The Insight aims to understand the Russian automotive market and develop a market forecast. The study examines changing consumer preferences as the country navigates through political crises and an economic slowdown.

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Apple responds to outcry from 250,000 consumers over working conditions

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 30 marzo 2012

Washington, DC – Today, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) released its assessment of working conditions in Apple supplier Foxconn’s factories. The assessment details numerous violations as well as commitments by Foxconn, working with Apple and the FLA, to improve working conditions. Today’s move comes in response to online outcry over the treatment of workers that make popular Apple products.Mark Shields, who started the popular Change.org petition, responded to the news: “Apple is making good on their brand promise and thinking different. There’s still important work to be done, but Apple and Foxconn have made serious commitments to improving the lives of their workers. Change.org provided a platform for so many Apple customers who needed a way to ask Apple to do better – and to their credit, they are listening.”Creator of popular petition on Change.org applauds Apple’s commitment to improving factory conditions

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WWF strategy – markets controlled, not market driven

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 23 marzo 2012

Voluntary certification systems have been touted for a long time by WWF to demonstrate that they were pro-market & market-friendly. So far none of the WWW sponsored systems have won market support. Consumers will not pay the cost of the “sustainability premium”. The WWF strategy now is to capture and direct the markets and dictate to consumers and producers; and to pressure governments to regulate compliance with their systems.
As in the climate change debate, it became a mantra in WWF marketing to business to emphasis it relied on market instruments to advance its sustainability goals. It was always bogus. At the heart of every WWF strategy lay the determination to regulate compliance with environmental goals.WWF used to argue that its forestry certification system, the genesis of RSPO and other systems, would assist producers because environmentally aware consumers would pay premium for products endorsed as sustainable. This has not happened and today WWF has dropped this line.The uptake of its certification systems, despite the marketing hype, has been poor. The biggest system, the Forest Stewardship Council, only certifies half the forestry of the world’s leading system the Program for Evaluation of Forest Certification. That system, unlike FSC, is not controlled by NGOs.
Companies which join the WWF sponsored certification systems are either pressured into joining or, once in, find themselves overtime pressured to adopt tougher and tougher standards to which they did not originally subscribe. Some, like Unilever in the case of RSPO, have become activist partners with WWF. Others are encouraged to go along, regularly being presented with attacks on brand names of competitors by other NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the clear implication being they are at risk of the same thing.RSPO is not financially viable. The current strategy is to use funding from the sale to some of its business members of palm oil certificates to mount a PR campaign, the aim of which from the distance appears to be to pressure corporate members to buy more certified palm oil. (Currently half of the pool of certified oil remains unpurchased).
Now WWF and Unilever are pressuring European Governments to urge the European Commission to lower tariffs on RSPO certified palm oil. The Unilever President of the RSPO has even stated publically that since the market won’t deliver, governments should.
EC trade officials in Brussels will not want to venture into that territory. They will find themselves under challenge in the WTO. Unilever would have understood that once. It was once the leading advocate of free trade in Europe. Today it is advocating “sustainable trade”. This is the talk of aspiring monopolist. No wonder it feels comfortable with the WWF strategy to capture markets.

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Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 24 dicembre 2011

Greenpeace snow man at the G8 Summit. www.gree...

Image via Wikipedia

Washington Just in time for the holidays, Ohio-based The Kroger Co. has announced that it is has “decided to discontinue the sourcing of products” from a Southeast Asian business partner, jeopardizing American paper industry jobs from Virginia to California. This misguided sourcing policy decision from America’s largest grocery store chain comes on the heels of a smear campaign waged by environmental activists World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace against Kroger and some of the other biggest retailers in the country, including Walmart, Target, and Food Lion. This cruel decision comes after the Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity (CAGP) recently organized citizen-activists nationwide to send more than 120,000 letters to Kroger and other retailers warning them not to cede to this type of green scheming. Americans have spoken up strongly, stating they will boycott these companies if they bow to WWF and Greenpeace’s plotting. Kroger and these other retailers, therefore, have been forewarned of the consequences of surrendering to green radicals.

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President Obama’s Green Assault on Jobs

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 3 settembre 2011

Aerial view of the White House in Washington, D.C.

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Green jobs have been the great – and since failed – hope of both the White House and environmental pressure groups. Now with President Obama slated to present a major jobs plan to a joint session of the Congress this coming Thursday, September 8 amidst a sluggish economic recovery, we are sadly going to hear more of the same Green and “clean energy economy” rhetoric. The reality is quite different. For example, just this week, solar panel manufacturer Solyndra announced that its shuttering its doors, eliminating 1,100 jobs in the process. This after a heralded visit to the company from President Obama himself and $535 million of our hard-earned tax dollars in loan guarantees. The iconic Tennessee-based guitar maker Gibson Guitars recently experienced a raid by armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agents were looking for wood used in the manufacturing of the company’s legendary six strings on the disputed belief that the wood sources were not considered environmentally correct.
The raid by the Obama Feds is all the more ironic considering that for years Gibson has worked hand in glove with far left Green organizations in an effort to make sure their wood comes from “approved” sources. Gibson is a partner in Greenpeace’s “Music Wood” campaign. It was one of the first instrument makers to procure wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), another anti-consumer extremist organization dating back to 1996. By 2006, more than 42% of Gibson USA’s wood originated from FSC certified sources, while the company has set a target to increase that share to 80% by 2012. Gibson’s CEO previously sat on the board of Rainforest Alliance. Gibson’s CEO loudly protested the raid, but unfortunately all of this consorting with environmentalists has only resulted in government jackboots kicking down doors and bad-mouthing from environmentalists. Gibson’s partners in the environmental movement operate in bad faith. At the end of the day, Green activists are fundamentally hostile to free enterprise and private property. No amount of caving to their demands will placate them.
Shoe companies Puma, Adidas and Nike were just three of 14 global clothing brands accused by Greenpeace of sourcing fabric from developing nations. The accusations stem from a concerted effort by Greenpeace to shame the world’s largest clothing companies into sourcing fabric with no hazardous chemicals, although the toxin in question – nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) – is not listed by the Philippines as a hazardous chemical. This matter is therefore for national regulatory regimes to manage, not anti-business NGOs. Puma and Nike in response capitulated and agreed to overhaul their supply chains by 2020. Adidas opted to gauge its competitors’ views regarding an industry-wide solution rather than immediately cave to Greenpeace’s baseless pressure, a move welcomed by Greenpeace. Worse, Adidas caved to Greenpeace’s campaign as acknowledged in a recent statement. The company stated, “the adidas Group has together with other brands been working tirelessly in recent weeks to bring the industry together in a forum to develop a roadmap that will address the ‘zero discharge’ challenge that Greenpeace has posed.” The fact that Adidas has endorsed Greenpeace’s anti-business and unrealistic extreme environmentalist agenda is a disappointing development for the company’s consumers.

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Against Asian Imports

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 25 dicembre 2010

Washington, Dc President Obama met with major U.S. union bosses at the White House in an effort to quell their dissatisfaction with his support of contentious tax cut extensions. But what wasn’t discussed between the two parties is a little-known secret of theirs that has been quietly brewing in Washington – a coordinated effort to keep high-quality, low- cost pulp and paper exports out of the American marketplace. This scheming has been detailed by the Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity (CAGP) in the recent report Empires of Collusion; and CAGP continues to condemn this anti-trade and anti-consumer meddling behind closed doors.
“When the first U.S. national labor group was formed in 1866, it took up the honest and noble goal of looking after the little guy. But centuries later, unions have grown so powerful that they are now their very own special interest group, one that often sides with large industries against the very people they originally pledged to protect. On the surface, President Obama and the big union bosses may have been discussing the Bush-era tax cuts last week, but what the media did not report is the secret collusion between Obama’s political cronies and these unions, which aims to stifle trade generally and stop Asian paper imports specifically,” said Frontiers of Freedom President George Landrith, a member of CAGP.
Joining these liberal policymakers and powerful unions in the “Empires of Collusion” are increasingly-uncompetitive U.S. paper businesses, such as Sappi and New Page, who are continually threatened by competition from abroad. Together, these parties are working to serve their own interests – votes, jobs and profits – all at the expense of the American consumer who is faced with higher prices for countless paper goods every day due to this collusion. And to round out this empire, radical environmental groups, long at odds with labor unions, have joined the fray to pursue their misguided agenda in Southeast Asia.
Landrith continued, “What you have happening here is congressmen and unions trying to protect constituents’ jobs, faltering businesses attempting to stay in the black, and biased NGOs seeing a great opportunity to lodge their baseless attacks against Asian suppliers of pulp and paper. These are the “Empires of Collusion”. Left out in the cold, however, are average American consumers dependent on affordable products and the millions of workers in Asia whose jobs these products sustain. CAGP has warned before and we warn again: these desperate special interests will stop at nothing to stick it to American consumers and workers in the developing world.”

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Stand Up for the Poor

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 22 ottobre 2010

Yesterday in New York City, the Book Industry Environment Council (BIEC) and the Green Press Initiative are partnering with environmental activist organizations to sponsor a symposium for book publishers and paper printers to discuss the latest information concerning Indonesian pulp and paper. While the stated goal of the forum is “to ensure that book papers are not negatively impacting Indonesia’s critical rainforests and the communities that depend on them,” Andrew Langer, spokesman for the Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity (CAGP) and president of the Institute for Liberty, strongly urges attendees to remember the economic and social importance of industries like pulp and paper for Indonesian families.

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Group Launched to Put Consumers First

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 27 agosto 2010

Washington, D.C.  Today in an effort to protect the rights of consumers globally, a new action-oriented coalition was launched to defend and advance the genuine interests of consumers and to ensure consumers are no longer ignored in the political and policymaking process.  The Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity (CAGP) seeks to educate and activate concerned citizens in response to costly collaboration between environmentalists, protectionist industries, big labor unions and retail companies.   CAGP said it would focus on a wide variety of issues involving green protectionism, green jobs and leftist consumer and corporate citizenship policies that often hurt more than help the poor both in the US and globally. One important issue to consumers is the ability to have access to high-quality, affordable paper products.  “American paper companies, big labor unions like the Steelworkers and radical environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network are colluding to erect trade barriers to block low-cost import products from Indonesia and China. Consumers are the ones who will be harmed, as the price of paper will rise, affecting the cost of almost every good and service imaginable,” said Langer.  “What’s most egregious is that uncompetitive US paper companies on the brink of bankruptcy are being bailed out by US taxpayers through a special interest loophole for their waste, “black liquor,” which gets preferential treatment when it is used as a fuel.” Langer added, “We must once again make the defense of the free-market the focal point of consumerism to ensure that individual liberties are reasserted and defended not just for American consumers, but also for those striving for economic freedom and progress in the developing world.”
About CAGP: Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity is an action-oriented alliance of advocacy groups that promotes economic growth and pro-consumer policies across the world.

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