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Stakeholders Discuss Establishment Of Consumer Protection Association

Source: Vientiane Times

Stakeholders from the public and private sectors as well as civil society met in Vientiane to discuss and exchange views on the establishment of a consumer protection association.

A workshop for discussing instructions for the setting up of the association was held last Thursday. It was co-organised by the International Trade Department, under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, through the ASEAN-German cooperation project “Consumer Protection in ASEAN” (PROTECT Project).

Non-profit associations play an important role in protecting consumer interests. “With the new regulation, we support the formation and operation of consumer associations at the central, provincial, and district levels. These can guide and represent consumers in disputes with businesses in the future,” Director-General of the Internal Trade Department, Dr Valaxay Lengsavath, stressed in his opening remarks.

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The Law on Consumer Protection was enacted in 2010 and was implemented by four main government agencies. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Science and Technology is responsible for dealing with policy matters and consumer complaints.

In recent months, particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been increasing concerns about businesses that engage in fraudulent or unfair activities, such as scams, and price gouging.

During the dissemination workshop, specific procedures and requirements for setting up a consumer association were communicated to the public, with the hope of motivating consumer champions.

The instructions by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to this effect were issued on 30 July and this complements the Decree of the Ministry of Home Affairs on Association of 2017. To date, Laos and Cambodia are the only ASEAN Member states without a consumer association.