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The ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection launches the ASEAN Guideline on Consumer Impact Assessment

ASEAN , 12 June 2023

6 June 2023 - The ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) launched the ASEAN Guidelines on Consumer Impact Assessment (CIA Guidelines).  The guidelines are expected to support consumer protection authorities in ASEAN Member States (AMS) in systematically assessing the impacts of policies, laws, and/or regulations on consumers, their rights, and legitimate interests. This in turn would contribute to a stronger anchoring of consumer perspectives in national policies, laws and/or regulations and mainstreaming it at the regional level.

The guideline has been developed with the view that many policies, laws, and regulations across ASEAN seldomly mention consumers as subject to their application, their relevance for consumer protection is often neglected and any impact on consumers is rarely examined.  Excluding the rights and interests of consumers in policymaking can result in social inequality, disadvantage certain groups in society, and even exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, such as access to essential goods and services. With this view, policymakers are therefore advised to anticipate and address potential adverse impacts of policies, laws, and regulations on consumers.

Though consumer protection officials have several existing tools in protecting consumers and monitoring market studies, the CIA complements these tools by drawing the attention of policymakers to any unintended, negative consequences for consumers as a result of economic policies or market regulation.  The result would be avoiding potential conflicts with the goals and principles of consumer protection, and mainstreaming consumer protection across different sectors and policy areas.  The guidelines offer clear guidance for screening and reviewing draft policies, laws and/or regulations whether they will likely result in any impact for consumers and their legitimate interests, and what such impact looks like.  The CIA can also be useful for AMS in modernising their respective legal frameworks to become more responsive to emerging issues, notably on data protection or e-commerce with the consumers in mind.

The guideline contains several key parts, such as the Overview and rationale for the CIA in ASEAN, the CIA checklist for initial scans on policies, laws, and regulations to highlight potential consumer impact, progress guidance through a step-by-step process, Explanatory Notes on the screening questions, a Selection Matrix for selecting policies, laws and/or regulations for the CIA and an Indicative Outline for the CIA report.

The development of the CIA Guidelines is part of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan on Consumer Protection (ASAPCP) 2025.  All in all, this is in line with Principle 6 of the ASEAN High-Level Principle on Consumer Protection (AHLP) where the promotion of consumer advocacy, which entails accounting for consumer views and representation by governments “before decisions are taken on relevant industrial, trade and social policy issues”.

These Guidelines were prepared with support by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, through the “Consumer Protection in ASEAN” (PROTECT) project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany.  

Visit the ACCP Website (www.aseanconsumer.org) for more information.

Download the Guidelines, here.