February 22, 2024

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Vietnam Protecting Online Consumer Rights

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been focusing on protecting consumer rights online amid the boom of e-commerce and the digital economy since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry launched Consumer Rights Day on World Consumer Rights Day, which is marked every year on 15 March.

The Ministry has stressed the importance of consumer protection in building a healthy environment and promoting socioeconomic development. This year’s event highlighted information transparency and safe consumption.

Despite the implementation of the Law on Consumer Rights Protection on 1 July 2011, there has been a persistent prevalence of consumer rights violations across multiple levels, with a growing level of complexity. Entering the post-COVID-19 period, e-commerce, especially borderless trade, has made consumer rights protection a new focus as there were several risks consumers face online. These risks include the sale of counterfeit and substandard products, as well as the misuse of personal information for fraudulent purposes.

The Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority is preparing to revise the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights to ensure that the legislation stays up-to-date with the evolving landscape. The proposed amendments to the law are expected to be presented for approval at the National Assembly’s meeting in May.

Tran Huu Linh, General Director of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, noted that apart from the online shopping trend, there has been an increase in trade fraud and risks to consumers, including fake and poor-quality products. According to statistics from the Ministry, over 1,660 online kiosks offering more than 6,400 products were taken down, and five e-commerce websites accused of selling counterfeit and/or uncertified products were blocked last year.

Linh emphasised that safeguarding consumer rights in the online realm was a priority for the market watch, particularly considering Vietnam’s ambition to become a frontrunner in digital economy development within the region. The government has set a goal for the digital economy to contribute 20% to the country’s GDP by 2025.

Owners of many online stores are prioritising consumer protection as one of their key business strategies. The official urged consumers to make orders from licensed platforms or official stores to ensure their rights are protected. The Deputy Director of the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority, Nguyen Quynh Anh, explained that consumer protection needs to have stronger and more substantive changes, which requires the active participation of businesses.

“We used to think that consumer protection was the matter of the State management agency and the consumers. Now, enterprises will be a more important subject in the consumer protection process,” Anh said. It is crucial for enterprises to recognise their responsibility in safeguarding consumer rights and ensuring that consumers have access to reasonably priced and safe products and services.

In 2020, Vietnam approved a National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025, with an orientation toward 2030. The strategy helps accelerate digital transformation through changes in awareness, enterprise strategies, and incentives toward the digitalisation of businesses, administration, and production activities.

The programme targets businesses, cooperatives, and business households that want to adopt digital transformation to improve their production, business efficiency, and competitiveness. The plan aims to have 80% of public services at level 4 online. Over 90% of work records at ministerial and provincial levels will be online while 80% of work records at the district level and 60% of work records at the commune level will be processed online.

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