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Enforcing Consumer Protection at Point of Importation

This Newsletter has frequently noted that consumer protection regulations are needed in Africa. This is both to protect consumers and to provide a level playing field for cross border ecommerce. In South Africa, for example, the Consumer Protection Act applies, which means that e-shops must apply the law – even when they are selling in countries in Africa with no consumer protection regulations. However, according to UNCTAD’s World Consumer Protection Map, 60% of countries lack experience in cross-border enforcement of consumer protection. The good news is that UNCTAD research found that regional cooperation can catalyse consumer protection. Therefore, by leveraging the Regional Economic Communities – like SADC or COMESA – better national protection can be introduced.

UNCTAD held a meeting on consumer protection across borders in Africa which agreed that preventing the cross-border distribution of known unsafe consumer products is a priority for countries, as it can improve consumer confidence and boost sustainable economic development. The meeting called on UNCTAD’s WG on Consumer Product Safety to propose practical means to implement this recommendation and report its progress next year. Readers will recall that last month’s Newsletter reported on new Kenyan controls on the import of counterfeit goods. EFSA supports GS1 in South Africa.

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