Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders

Study on Unfair Trade Practices in select ASEAN countries

CUTS Hanoi Resource Centre, with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC – Canada), is implementing a two-year project entitled “Study on Unfair Trade Practices in select ASEAN countries”, in cooperation with research partners in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The overall objective of this proposed project is to generate and promote substantive discussions/dialogues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on issues related to unfair trade practices (UTPs). This is expected to lead and contribute to the improvement of the relevant legal and institutional frameworks in ASEAN countries that seek to sustain a fair business environment therein and ensure equitable market outcomes in the long run.

Towards that overall objective, the proposed project would aim at the following specific objectives:

(1) Highlighting to policy-makers and advocacy groups the relevance of designing appropriate regulatory frameworks to deal with UTPs in select ASEAN countries, by bringing to the fore the prevalence and nature of various UTPs in these markets as well as showcasing their possible harms to competition, business growth and consumers’ welfare;

(2) Promoting public support for the development of such regulatory frameworks by understanding the perceptions and expectations of relevant stakeholder groups (consumers and small enterprises) and infusing these perceptions and expectations into the national discourse within select ASEAN countries on UTPs;

(3) Facilitating common understanding and networking between relevant stakeholder groups (policymakers, the research community and academia, consumers and the business) in select ASEAN countries and region-wide for creating consensus and momentum from the bottom-up for ASEAN-wide discussions on UTPs; and

(4) Deepening the discussion and building capacity amongst members of the ASEAN Experts’ Group on Competition (AEGC) on issues related to UTPs as a starting point for ASEAN-level discussions on UTPs.

Expected outcomes

The project plans to achieve these goal and objectives via the attainment of the following outcomes:

    (Under Objective No.1)

  • Emergence of a resource pool of knowledge for all relevant stakeholder groups within and outside ASEAN to draw from on UTPs in the region
  • Increased capacity of researchers in the region to undertake research in this specialised area
  • Increased appreciation by policy-makers and advocacy groups of the prevalence of and harms caused by UTPs
  • (Under Objective No.2)

  • Increased awareness of stakeholder groups, especially the consumers, and the small business for self protection and contributions to effective law compliance processes
  • Featuring of the perceptions of various stakeholder groups on UTPs in the national policy discussion
  • (Under Objective No.3)

  • Emergence of an informal network of people and institutions which have interests on the issues to exchange views and knowledge in the ASEAN region
  • Development of common understanding/consensus within and amongst ASEAN countries on the issues of UTPs
  • (Under Objective No.4)

  • Initiation and substantive developments of discussions within and amongst ASEAN countries on UTPs, the appropriate legal and institutional frameworks to deal with them, as well as possibility of policy coordination and enforcement cooperation