Consumer advice body UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) is continuing to build relationships and working agreements with non-EU countries and is working hard to grow this part of its work.
The UKICC currently has formal contractual agreements with consumer organisations in Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as informal arrangements with consumer organisations based in New Zealand, USA, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
The centre’s 4th quarter data report for 2021 shows that more and more of the cases handled by the UKICC are against businesses located outside of the EU: in fact, 10% (215) of the total number of cases handled in the fourth quarter of 2021 related to non-EU countries, most commonly China, USA and Switzerland.
Looking at the number of cases for the whole of 2021, the UKICC received 809 cases against non-EU based business, that’s a 10% increase compared to the cases received during 2019 (732).
Service Director at the UK International Consumer Centre, Andy Allen, said: “We are actively working towards cultivating new working relations with non-EU countries in order to boost the range of countries that UK consumers can receive our advice and support on. Discussions are ongoing with Australia and Bangladesh at the moment.
“It all means that rather than just giving free advice and help to UK consumers who have problems with EU traders – as it was largely when the UKICC was part of the European Consumer Centre network – the centre now has a much larger portfolio of countries it has working relationships with.
“The proportion of cases we handle with relation to non-EU countries is growing steadily too. These agreements mean that consumer protection centres in these countries work with the UKICC to support queries from consumers in each country about businesses in the other.
“In total, it means we have relationships with almost 40 countries. UK residents have the reassurance that if something goes wrong, they have got backing from a consumer organisation like the UKICC.”