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ASEAN Promotes Consumer Empowerment

ASEAN , 14 July 2017

The ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) is developing two key tools to enhance consumer empowerment and advocacy as part of the initiatives under Goal 4 of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan on Consumer Protection (ASAPCP) 2025 on mainstreaming consumer protection in policy decision-making.

As regional integration and economic development advances in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a key outcome for consumer policy will be the extent to which consumer empowerment has progressed in the Community. Empowering consumers means equipping consumers with the necessary knowledge and tools to take up more emphatic roles in exercising their responsibilities and rights under consumer laws. The development of the ASEAN Handbook on Consumer Protection (Handbook) and the ASEAN Consumer Empowerment Index (ACEI) are two of such tools to assist the ASEAN consumers and policy-makers and to contribute to this end.

Mr Luther Palimbong, the Director of Consumer Protection, Ministry of Trade, Indonesia highlighted that ASEAN, through the ACCP, is committed to introducing and implementing measures for enhanced and effective consumer protection policies and laws at both the regional and national levels. His remarks were delivered at the Prepapratory Meeting for the Development of the ACEI and the Handbook, which was held at the ASEAN Secretariat, from 19-20 July 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The ACEI will help map and measure the degree of awareness and knowledge of consumers, their skills and competencies as well as assertiveness/behavior in exercising such rights. It will be developed modelling upon various best practices and regional and international models. Research into ASEAN consumers through the ACEI, will also provide a measurement tool to gauge progress in consumer empowerment over the coming decade. The ACEI results could also feed into the policy planning for government authorities as these provide indicators of the effectiveness of policies.

Similary, the Handbook aims to provide factual information on the consumer protection laws and regulations of ASEAN Member States as well as the redress mechanisms available in ASEAN. The Handbook will better inform the consumers about available consumer protection mechansims, which is especially pertinent for cross-border cases,since more ASEAN consumers are expected to travel regionally and to make purchases on-line through regional websites.

The Meeting was organised by the Ministry of Trade Indonesia and the ASEAN Secretariat, with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, upon commission of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).