ASEAN Consumer Product Safety Law: Fragmented Regulation and Emergent Product Liability Regimes in Southeast Asia
"ASEAN Consumer Law Harmonisation and Cooperation: Achievements and Challenges", Cambridge University Press (2019)
31 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020 Last revised: 11 Jun 2020
Date Written: March 10, 2020
The ten states now comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have collectively become a major part of the world economy, bringing together over 600 million people including a growing middle class. Yet they are highly diverse in socio-economic development, political structure and legal traditions. My co-authored book therefore explores what hope there for real legal harmonisation or cooperation, especially for consumer protection? The “ASEAN Economic Community” (AEC) project significantly expanded intra-regional trade and investment liberalisation commitments, aiming to raise individual member states’ living standards. But this does not necessarily mean weakening consumer protection. Instead, through AEC Blueprints and related law reform and capacity-building initiatives, ASEAN has tried to “trade up” to higher consumer law standards.
This chapter manuscript from the book shows how consumer product safety law has become a core element of consumer protection law in almost all ASEAN member states. Reforms began by creating post-market intervention powers for consumer affairs regulators, allowing them to ban or recall goods found to be unsafe; and sometimes pre-market powers, to set minimum safety standards. Yet many general consumer affairs regulators still lack capacity and jurisdiction, especially for pre-market powers, limiting capacity to exercise even post-market regulatory powers and to engage in proliferating cross-border standard-setting networks. The Chapter also examines the relationship between regulators and NGOs, as well as with private litigants who may wish to turn instead to the court system to obtain relief for harm from unsafe goods. Five ASEAN states have enacted strict product liability legislation. Indeed, although inspired by 1985 European Union legislation, the versions in Southeast Asia generally are more pro-plaintiff in various ways. Yet there are almost no court filings. Appendices present two extended case studies: informal networks promoting food standards and safety, and formal agreements harmonising cosmetics regulation.
Keywords: consumer law and policy, comparative law, Asian law, law reform, product liability, safety regulation, tort law, contract law, redress, access to justice, economic integration
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation