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Consumer Protection Officials Study E-commerce Investigations Skills at AANZFTA workshop

ASEAN , 22 April 2022

Melbourne, 22 April 2022 – 49 participants (approximately 44% of which were female) from all ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) participated in the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Consumer Affairs Programme’s (CAP) E-Commerce Investigations Training Workshop on 20-22 April 2022.

The three-day online interactive workshop covered how current digital technology is changing markets and the way consumers interact with them, and in turn changing the work of consumer protection authorities.  It explored the challenges raised by this transformation for consumer protection agencies and provided examples of various investigation strategies and intervention techniques in response.  Speakers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Viet Nam, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guided attendees through a series of practical case studies and presentations, examining current and emerging e-commerce enforcement themes and regulatory responses to minimise consumer harm and promote consumer welfare.  Small online breakout room sessions helped facilitate increased dialogue between AANZFTA agencies by sharing experiences and learnings between agency officials.

Jonathon Gale from the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) commented, “Participating and presenting at the CAP E-Commerce Investigation Skills workshops was a great opportunity to understand how other regulators approach unique investigation challenges presented by e-commerce. It was pleasing to hear the similarities in investigation approaches and the variety of perspectives from different participants. We look forward to strengthening our relationships with other regulators in the future as consumer law programs in ASEAN jurisdictions continue to evolve.”

Evaluation data revealed strong learning outcomes. The workshop received an average rating of 4.6 out 5 for overall relevance, and an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 for overall quality (1 being the lowest score possible, and 5 being the highest) from survey participants. Supporting these results an ASEAN survey participant stated:

“It is good to see and understand the advanced tools and skills used by other countries in their investigations online. Another is the behavioural economic aspect of the presentations that would greatly help consumer protection agencies to come up with better policies. Lastly, some interesting cases were discussed that may boost cases that our enforcement agencies may replicate (sic)”.

Mr. Looi Teck Kheong, Head of Competition, Consumer Protection and IPR Division of the ASEAN Secretariat stated,

The E-commerce Investigation Skills Workshop is especially timely given the increasing number of scams perpetuated on consumers in the digital platform.  The best chance for enforcement agencies to overcome and succeed against these perpetrators is for the investigators to come together and share their experiences and expertise, allowing them to grow, learn, and react in a consistent manner and in real time”.

AANZFTA CAP is delivered with support from the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP) and in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat.  Incepted in October 2020, CAP seeks to support AMS to strengthen national consumer law implementation in support of fairer, more efficient markets and improved outcomes for consumers.

For further information, please contact the AANZFTA Support Unit at aanzfta_inquiry@asean.org or the AANZFTA CAP Team at cap@accc.gov.au.