Consumer Contracts and Product Safety Law in Southeast Asia: Partly Trading Up?
in Hsieh, Pasha L.; Mercurio, Bryan (eds), "ASEAN Law in the New Regional Economic Order: Global Trends and Shifting Paradigms", Cambridge University Press, 2019
23 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2019 Last revised: 26 May 2020
Date Written: June 25, 2019
This paper explores the efforts by the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to implement harmonized minimum standards of consumer protection. This project seeks to avoid a ‘regulatory race to the bottom’ alongside trade and investment liberalization, especially pursuant to the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015. The paper examines regulatory gaps, poor enforcement and access to justice, and other impediments to ‘trading up’ to higher harmonized standards for consumer protection across Southeast Asia, focusing on two main fields: product safety (focusing on general consumer goods, rather than sectoral safety regulation for high-risk products) and regulation aimed at ensuring minimum quality standards in consumer contracts for the supply of goods and services.
Much work remains to be done to enhance ASEAN consumer protection law in both fields, especially in consumer contract law. The safety of tangible goods – beginning with higher-risk and/or everyday products such as foods – meets a fundamental physical need, rather than an economic interest. Introducing and enhancing consumer product safety law has therefore long appealed to governments of all stripes. In addition, there may be more widespread business opposition to ‘trading up’ to higher standards regarding consumer contracts than for the safety of tangible products.
Keywords: consumer law and policy, comparative law, Asian law, law reform, product liability, safety regulation, contract law, tort law, redress, economic integration
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation