Expert Panel Discusses Consumer Law Enforcement and Compliance Issues in ASEAN
ASEAN , 28 September 2021
36 consumer protection officials from across ASEAN joined an interactive webinar to discuss enforcement and compliance issues in ASEAN.
The webinar – ‘Consumer Law Enforcement and Compliance in ASEAN’ – featured a panel of consumer law experts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Australia sharing their experience and insights on the different approaches to enforcing and promoting compliance with consumer law in their countries.
Opening the webinar, Mr Baethan Mullen, General Manager of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Economic and International Branch, highlighted that “when it comes to consumer protection, regulators around ASEAN have differing roles and capabilities, and are at different stages in their implementation. The webinar provides an excellent opportunity for ASEAN officials to come together and learn from each other to ensure that, through continued efforts to effectively monitor and enforce consumer protection laws, they will succeed in building a dynamic and prosperous ASEAN economic community.”
The panel also explored several topical issues such as the benefits and challenges of the different approaches taken by regulators to implement consumer law and key areas where reform is strengthening and promoting consumer protection in ASEAN.
During the discussion, the panellist from Vietnam, Ms Alice Pham, Director of Research Consults, outlined the work being carried out in consultation with the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority to identify gaps in the current consumer law or where it can be improved to meet international best practice in areas such as e-commerce and online consumer lending, to make recommendations for upcoming amendments to Vietnam’s consumer law.
The panel discussed challenges and opportunities that agencies in the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) will be facing on consumer protection in the coming years. Ms Nurul Marha binti Mohamed, Director, Consumer Policy and Research Division with the Malaysian Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA), pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed specific regulatory gaps for the MDTCA to address to maintain adequate consumer protection in this new environment. Mr Richard Fleming, General Manager of the Consumer and Compliance Strategies Branch, ACCC, highlighted an opportunity for the ACCC in the area of consumer guarantees, with the introduction of a new regime that will enable the ACCC to take action against businesses who fail to honour a consumer’s statutory rights.
From Indonesia, Mr Heru Sutadi, Commissioner, National Consumer Protection Agency (BPKN), also spoke about how his organisation plays a pivotal role in gathering consumer complaints and advocating for consumers’ rights. He stated that consumer education still remains an effective deterrent from potential loss or harm for consumers. He also highlighted that technology such as an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) System would benefit Indonesia greatly in the long term to assist it in handling the large number of consumer disputes received every month. Mr Heru also mentioned that “effective enforcement strategies will also come from information sharing sessions such as this webinar”.
Participants were invited to directly engage with the panellists during a general Question and Answer session.
Concluding the event, Mr Looi Teck Kheong, Head of Competition, Consumer Protection and Intellectual Property Rights Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, commented that “the webinar provided an added benefit of looking at consumer protection enforcement and compliance procedures not only from the ACCC but also the AMS perspective. This is important as it allows us to identify effective strategies or new approaches the AMS can adopt from the ACCC”.
A recording of the webinar will be made available to ASEAN officials via CLIP Academy in the following month.
The webinar is part of the AANZFTA Consumer Affairs Program (CAP) Phase I, delivered by the ACCC in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat. Supported by the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme, CAP seeks to foster effective consumer protection administrations in ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand to support AANZFTA objectives on competition further.
For more information, please contact the AANZFTA Support Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.