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The Asean Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) will officially launch the Regional Complaints Platform on June 28 as part of the 3rd Asean Consumer Protection Conference (APC) 2022.

In a news statement issued on Tuesday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the ACCP agreed to pursue the Asean Secretariat’s proposal to enhance the ACCP website to add features such as the complaints portal, product recalls page and an internal page which is accessible only to ACCP members and the Asean Secretariat.

It added that through this platform, workshop materials can be shared and members can update their respective country page in real time.

The Asean Regional Complaints Platform is a dedicated page in the Asean Committee on Consumer Protection website (http://aseanconsumer.org/) where consumers can file consumer complaints that are of concern to Asean Member States (AMS).

The said regional complaints platform serves as a channel or facility for Asean consumers to complain or claim for any loss incurred in relation to any goods or services purchased or acquired, in a speedy manner.

The inclusion of a complaints platform within the ACCP website adheres to the Asean Guidelines on Cross Border Business to Consumer (B2C) Dispute Resolution and is aligned with the initiative of the Asean Strategic Action Plan on Consumer Protection (ASAPCP 2025).

The Guidelines and Strategic Action Plan provide the establishment of an Asean Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Network and the establishment of a cross-border complaints mechanism in Asean.

For this initiative, the ACCP was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) within the framework of the PROTECT Project, an EU-funded research project.

For her part, DTI-Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said, “The complaint platform provides an efficient facility for consumer redress to provide them greater confidence when making commercial transactions locally or internationally regardless if the same was made online or offline.”

In fact, according to the 2022 Outcome Report on Data and Digitalization for Development released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), the Southeast Asian region is one of the most dynamic regions with regard to digitalization with fast-evolving and expanding e-commerce landscapes and consumer ODR has a key role to play in reaping the benefits offered by e-commerce while protecting consumers.

For the Philippines, the Unctad said in the outcome report that Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo mentioned that the country launched the Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS), a web-based portal where clients may log complaints and seek relief for products or services they purchase online. 

In relation to the Philippines’ online dispute resolution system, the Unctad report read, “The system is being developed and should be finished in 2025 when it will be linked with the Asean  platform.”