Trust in cross-border e-commerce: the case for consumer product safety

27 April 2022
12:00 - 13:00 hrs.

As business-to-consumer e-commerce continues to bloom, with 27 per cent of the world’s population aged 15 years and older shopping online, so do the risks to consumers’ health and safety caused by unsafe products being sold online. This happens in the context of rising concerns on the availability of information and data regarding products and services sold cross-border.

UNCTAD member States recognize that appropriate policies that promote trade in safe consumer products can improve consumer confidence and provide more favourable conditions for sustainable economic development.

Policymakers are pursuing policies that guarantee consumers’ rights to be informed and to safe products and to be protected against negative consequences involving unsafe products; at the same time those policies should  not create unnecessary obstacles to trade or be more trade restrictive than necessary. 

In this pursuit, international cooperation becomes instrumental in maximizing consumer welfare while reducing barriers to trade. In 2020, UNCTAD adopted the Recommendation on preventing cross-border distribution of known unsafe consumer products, which call for more exchange of data and information on national policies among Governments and for awareness raising initiatives among businesses and consumers on the risks to consumers’ physical safety posed by unsafe products, especially when engaging in cross-border online transactions.

In 2021, Consumers International launched their Guidelines for Online Product Safety presenting global recommendations for action from Governments and businesses to ensure the rights and needs of consumers are built into the design of e-commerce regulations and practices.

This session will discuss how the enhancement of the exchange of data and information among governments, business and consumers can benefit the growth and trust in digital markets, as well as being a tool to foster development for communities around the world. In that sense, the session will discuss the current policy framework in pursuit of a common agenda to enhance consumer information and data sharing on product safety in online markets, as a way to help digital markets to be more trustful, transparent and fair. 

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UNCTAD and Consumers International

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Mr. Arnau Izaguerri -