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ASEAN Highlights Need for Strong Consumer Protection

ASEAN , 02 May 2018

The 2nd ASEAN Consumer Protection Conference was held from 14-15 December 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand, focusing on consumer protection legislation, consumer redress and justice mechanisms and new emerging trends including sustainable consumption and protection for e-commerce transactions.

The Conference was also held against the backdrop of the recent adoption of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for Consumer Protection (2016-2025) (ASAPCP). H.E. Chavalit Chookajorn, the Executive Inspector-General from the Office of the Prime Minister of Thailand, in his welcoming address, underlined that consumer protection is key to achieving the post-2015 agenda of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and that the ten-year ASAPCP will contribute towards enhancing consumer protection in ASEAN.

Ms Ganef Judawati, Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) noted that “ASEAN with its over 600 million consumers represents a huge potential for business. Consumer protection remains to be an important area under the new ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint’ to ensure better functioning of markets for both consumers and business. She further elaborated on the recently developed ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for Consumer Protection (2016-2025) charts the course of the ACCP in the next 10 years. It contains four strategic goals that are designed to allow ASEAN to work towards a common consumer protection framework, build ASEAN citizens confidence in the AEC, integrating consumer concerns into other ASEAN policies, and to maximize the benefits of the AEC for consumers and businesses.

The two-day Conference highlighted the different models of consumer protection in ASEAN, with some having wide-ranging consumer protection, including product safety and liability laws, while others are just starting out. The Conference also stressed some important features of the redress and enforcement mechanisms under these laws, noting that besides a strong legislative framework, consumer confidence should also be built through access to information and advocacy, easy-to-use redress mechanisms and effective enforcement. Governments need to assume a more pro-active role through undertaking risk-analysis such as a data driven approach and working with industry to support consumers. Consumer groups, on the other hand, have to actively work with governments and the business sector to reduce undesirable market behavior and production of defective goods and services.

The Conference was participated by government agencies, consumer associations, academicians and international organisations. The Workshop was co-organised by the Office of Consumer Protection Board of Thailand (OCPB) and the ASEAN Secretariat with support by the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase II (AADCP II). The wide-ranging topics of the Conference were drawn from the Consumer Protection Digests and Case Studies: A Policy Guide (Volume II), which are uploaded on http://www.asean.org/communities/asean-economic-community/category/key-document.