Groups Push Improved Information Sharing within ASEAN to Protect Consumers from Unsafe Products

As the nation observes the Consumer Welfare Month (CWM) this October,
public interest groups urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
to strengthen mechanisms for sharing product hazard and safety information as
the region moves towards economic integration.
The Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF) and the EcoWaste
Coalition jointly called for improved information sharing on product recalls
and product safety-related incidents in line with this year’s theme for the
CWM: “Consumer Protection in the Asean Economic Community.”
“As various sectors tackle the hurdles towards regional economic integration,
ASEAN member states need to work double time to bolster consumer product safety
regulations to protect consumers from inferior quality and unsafe products,
including those sold in e-commerce, that can put consumer health at risk,” said
Rene Pineda, President of CRSF, a member group of the National Consumer Affairs
“In line with the consumer right to know, current mechanisms for
sharing information on products that pose serious threats to health as well as
to the environment should be reviewed and strengthened and be made more publicly
available,” added Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project
A system for more efficient notification and public disclosure
procedures on hazardous and substandard products have become more important as impediments
for cross-border trade are removed, especially with the emergence of on-line
commerce, the groups said.
The ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) launched in 2012
the website www.aseanconsumer.org to serve as the main reference point for consumers
on matters pertaining to certain banned or recalled products.
The website contains “Lists of Official Recalled/Banned Products
and Voluntary Recalled/Banned Products in ASEAN” based on submissions by member
The effectiveness of the said website,
the groups said, should be reviewed with inputs from all stakeholders to
determine necessary improvements that should be introduced.
According to the ASEAN-published “Consumer Protection Digests and
Case Studies: A Policy Guide,” “defective 
products  impose  various 
direct  and indirect  costs 
on  consumers and  the 
broader  community.”
“A particular concern in developed countries worldwide (and
increasingly now  middle-income
countries), including among ASEAN Member States, has been  the influx of low-priced manufactured goods
from major exporting nations,” the report said.
“ASEAN  Member  States 
are  also  increasingly 
integrated  into  pan-Asian production chains, with components
being sourced in the region for assembly and 
exporting  to  developed 
country  markets  through 
a  rapidly  growing network of free trade agreements,”
the report also noted.