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This article, which draws on the author's experience as a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee of the Organization of American States, focuses on the problem of crafting an appropriate hemispheric regime for the protection of consumer rights. The subject is now a major element in the agenda of the OAS Specialized Conference on Private International Law (know also under its Spanish acronym as the CIDIP process), in part because of the increased salience of the issue in light of increasing e-commerce. The article, based on the author's presentation at a symposium at the St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota on economic development in Latin America, argues that the problem of consumer protection in international transactions in the region needs to be re-conceptualized as a problem in international law an politics. It argues that the important welfare gains that can be achieved through a trade-based approach to consumer protection that avoids implicit subsidies for exporters and disguised discrimination or protectionism in favor of competing domestic producers needs to be coupled explicitly with a socio-political approach that takes advantage of pro-democratic and rule of law-enhancing effects of enhanced consumer protections. The article then argue that, in addition to being normatively compelling, this proposed re-conceptualization is in the foreign policy interest of the U.S. It concludes with an incremental legal strategy for developing this new agenda.



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