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Imported Unsafe Products a Threat to Consumers

In a new study, UNCTAD research shows that general safety requirements and liability regimes embedded in the laws, along with standards, are the cornerstones of consumer product safety frameworks around the world. While more developed countries have put in place product safety frameworks, including laws, enforcement institutions, recall mechanisms, and communication campaigns, developing countries with weaker systems are less able to tackle unsafe products. International cooperation is therefore needed to improve product safety for all consumers.

In 2020 UNCTAD adopted its first recommendation on product safety. It aims to curb the flow of unsafe products being traded internationally, by strengthening ties among consumer product safety authorities and sensitizing businesses and consumers. It also emphasised the urgent need to eradicate unsafe and hazardous products being traded and manufactured. UNCTAD says consumers’ vulnerability is heightened since they may be unaware that health or safety requirements vary from country to country and may assume that all products on sale online are safe. Because consumers often underestimate risk and may decide to purchase the cheapest products out of financial necessity, UNCTAD urges authorities to educate consumers on the possible safety consequences of decisions based solely on price.

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