Project Title

Promoting Consumer Protection in Digital Trade: Challenges and Opportunities 

Project Year

2018   

Project Number

ECSG 03 2018A 

Project Session

Session 2   

Project Type

Standard 

Project Status

Project in Implementation   
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Project No.

ECSG 03 2018A 

Project Title

Promoting Consumer Protection in Digital Trade: Challenges and Opportunities 

Project Status

Project in Implementation 

Publication (if any)

 

Fund Account

APEC Support Fund 

Sub-fund

ASF: Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth (IERG) 

Project Year

2018 

Project Session

Session 2 

APEC Funding

95,000 

Co-funding Amount

15,000 

Total Project Value

110,000 

Sponsoring Forum

Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) 

Topics

Electronic Commerce 

Committee

Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) 

Other Fora Involved

 

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

 

Proposing Economy(ies)

Korea 

Co-Sponsoring Economies

Chile; Japan; New Zealand; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; United States 

Expected Start Date

01/11/2018 

Expected Completion Date

31/10/2019 

Project Proponent Name 1

Park Soung-In 

Job Title 1

Deputy Director, Regional Economic Organisation Division 

Organization 1

Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Postal Address 1

60, Sajik-ro 8-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03172, Korea 

Telephone 1

(82-2) 21007984 

Fax 1

Not Applicable 

Email 1

sipark18@mofa.go.kr 

Project Proponent Name 2

Not Applicable 

Job Title 2

Not Applicable 

Organization 2

Not Applicable 

Postal Address 2

Not Applicable 

Telephone 2

Not Applicable 

Fax 2

Not Applicable 

Email 2

Not Applicable 

Declaration

Park Soung-In 

Project Summary

So far, APEC‘s discussion on the digital economy has been focused on the supply side of the digital market, including the free flow of data, regulatory infrastructure, and enabling technology. However, the rise of digital trade brought about a compelling need to strengthen regional cooperation in addressing issues associated with the demand side as well. Consumer protection, a key driver of growth in digital trade, is one of the demand side issues that have received less attention from APEC undeservingly. 

Consumer protection is an important consideration for many economies when developing policies and regulations to facilitate digital trade and e-commerce. Korea will hold a one-day workshop on the margins of CTI2 in Chile in 2019 and invite delegates from the consumer protection agencies of member economies to provide a venue for sharing information on the challenges they face in digital trade. Participants will be able to discuss ways to promote regional cooperation in the field of consumer protection, focusing on ways to create a regional framework for enforcement cooperation, and identify the international norms and principles that APEC can refer to.

Relevance

Relevance – Region: Consumers are a strong driver of growth in digital trade. Empowered by mobile devices, digital infrastructure, and social networking services, consumers are actively engaged in the digital trade market, and they motivate innovation, productivity, and competition. However, consumers engaged in cross-border commercial activities in the digital market can be exposed to risks. These risks include fraud, identity theft, misrepresentation of material facts, and product safety issues, and they erode consumer trust and hinder the growth of B2C digital trade, which is expected to be the driving force of growth in the digital market. 

While the rise of digital trade brings about a compelling need to strengthen regional cooperation in enforcing consumer protection, there remains a list of challenges for APEC to overcome. A major obstacle in promoting cross-border cooperation is that economies take different approaches in enforcing consumer protection regulations. While some economies can fully share consumer complaints with foreign authorities, other economies are legally banned from doing so. Other challenges include inadequate resources, lack of legal power, language, and the incompatibility of legal systems. 

Therefore, there is a strong need for enforcement authorities in the region to share ideas on what challenges they face in the cross-border enforcement of consumer protection regulations and what type of work APEC could undertake to further strengthen consumer’s confidence in digital trade. This project will lay a foundation for APEC member economies to strengthen legitimate and effective protection for consumers in digital trade. 

Relevance – Eligibility and Fund Priorities: This project contributes to implementing the APEC Initiative of Cooperation to Promote Internet Economy, which is one of the priorities of the IERG Sub-fund. The Initiative emphasizes the importance of empowering vulnerable groups in the Internet economy, which was also reiterated by the APEC Accord on Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth endorsed by the leaders in 2014. Consumers are exposed to greater risks of deceptive commercial activities in the digital market and are one of the biggest vulnerable groups that APEC needs to protect. 

The follow-up documents of the Initiative and the Accord also indicate that consumer protection in digital trade is crucial in advancing the growth of the Internet and the digital economy. The APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap, which was endorsed last year as a follow-up to the Initiative, puts emphasis on improving consumer confidence for the growth of the Internet and the digital economy. Furthermore, the APEC Cross-Border E-commerce Innovation and Development Initiative and the APEC Cross-Border E-Commerce Facilitation Framework, which are follow-ups to the Accord, stated that one of their objectives is to “explore reliable and trusted consumer protection mechanism” and urged member economies to promote online consumer protection. 

Relevance – Capacity Building: This project will help build the capacity of APEC member economies, particularly developing economies, to strengthen cross-border protection for consumers in the region. The workshop will provide a venue for member economies to identify ways to improve consumer protection mechanisms so that they can have a better understanding about what measures they should take to facilitate cross-border enforcement of consumer protection regulations.

Objectives

The overarching goal of this project is to identify the challenges in consumer protection in the era of the digital economy and explore ways to enhance cooperation, including the possibility of creating a regional cooperation framework for regulation enforcement. The workshop will be about sharing ideas on ways to promote consumer protection in the region between the competent authorities of member economies and drawing policy recommendations from discussions with delegates from international organizations such as the OECD, the G20 and UNCTAD.

The objectives of this project are:

·  to share information on the challenges consumer protection agencies face in digital trade;

·  to identify the international norms and principles that APEC can refer to for this topic, and

.  to seek ways to promote regional cooperation in the field of consumer protection, including creating a framework for enforcement cooperation.

Alignment

Alignment - APEC:  Recognizing the importance of increasing consumer confidence through consumer protection, APEC endorsed the Consumer Education and Protection Initiative in 1999, which has been included as a means for the APEC liberalization and facilitation process in the Osaka Action Agenda. The APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap endorsed last year also puts emphasis on improving consumer confidence to facilitate the growth of the Internet and the digital economy and urges APEC member economies to collaborate in providing appropriate and legitimate protection for consumers. Furthermore, the APEC Cross-Border E-Commerce Facilitation Framework (2017) highlights the importance of exploring reliable and trusted consumer protection mechanisms and promoting online consumer protection. The goal of this project also aligns with the overarching theme of APEC 2018, which is “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing Digital Future.” 

Alignment – Forum: The CTI is in charge of supporting one of the key priorities of APEC 2018, “improving digital connectivity & deepening regional economic integration.” The CTI carries out a number of projects to deepen regional economic integration, but projects related to the Internet and the digital economy have greater priority. The APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap endorsed last year also identifies digital trade and consumer protection as areas requiring further cooperation within APEC.

TILF/ASF Justification

Not Applicable.

Beneficiaries and Outputs

Outputs:  

1) One-day workshop 

A one-day workshop will be the major output of this project. It will provide an opportunity for in-depth discussions, specifically on i) the challenges consumer protection agencies face in digital trade, ii) international norms and principles that APEC can refer to in order to improve consumer protection mechanisms, and iii) ways to promote regional cooperation in the field of consumer protection, including developing a framework for enforcement cooperation. 

Problems such as fraud, credit theft, failure to be notified of important information, etc. are all likely to undermine consumer confidence in digital trade and thus adversely affect the growth of B2C market. In regulating these challenges, it is imperative for consumer protection agencies to coordinate with other relevant agencies within and beyond the region. However, cooperation is likely to be hampered by the wide gap in the level of regulation among agencies, restrictions on sharing information, lack of binding force, limited resources and jurisdiction issue of remedy for damage. One of the ways to address these challenges may be to develop a flexible framework within APEC that embraces social, legal, economic and cultural differences among the Member economies and enhance cooperation in the enforcement. 

The tentative agenda of the workshop will be as the following: 

a) Review the international rules for consumer protection

- Discussion in major organizations such as OECD, UN, ASEAN, UNCTAD

- Discussion in the WTO e-commerce meeting

b) Review the enforcement of consumer protection regulations

- Enforcement by ICPEN, ICPHSC, BBB, ECC etc.

- Challenges and risks

c) Discuss the possibility of establishing an APEC framework for consumer protection

- Suggest the possible design of the framework

- Panel discussion and conclusion

The speakers will be composed of the experts of the consumer protection regulation enforcement agencies, particularly the Committee on Consumer Policy (CCP) of OECD, the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC) of EU and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). 

2) Final Report on the workshop 

Following the workshop, an evaluation will be conducted through a questionnaire survey to receive participants’ comments and suggestions. Based on this evaluation and the discussions at the workshop, a Final Report will be developed and circulated to all the speakers, participants, and relevant APEC fora, such as the ECSG, the SMEWG and ABAC. 

In addition, the report will consist of executive summary of the workshop, including the purpose and outcome. It will also present the findings from the workshop, including challenges and policy recommendations drawn from presentation given by experts from WTO, UNCTAD, OECD (CCP), EU (ECC), and BBB, and panel discussions. 

The expected length of the Final Report is about 30-40 pages. We will include the summary of the workshop, including the issues and contents discussed and the best practices and recommendations shared by the experts and participants. 

3) Policy recommendations 

Policy recommendations, which will be included in the final report of the project, will be mainly drawn from the presentations and panel discussions by experts from OECD, EC, WTO, UNCTAD and other consumer protection regulation agencies. The issues discussed and presented will be related to the current status of international rules regulating consumer protection in ecommerce, challenges in enforcing the rules and the future of building APEC framework for the enforcement of consumer protection regulations. The recommendations will be shared to stakeholders via the final report before the end of the project, which is October. 

Outcomes:  

1) Increased understanding and knowledge

By having discussions and sharing information on consumer protection in digital trade, the workshop will provide the participants with an opportunity to have greater understanding and knowledge on the challenges and risks consumer protection agencies face in enforcing the rules. Also, the workshop will highlight the value of consumer protection as an important factor in boosting the digital economy in the long-term.

2) Policy recommendations

The workshop will provide relevant knowledge and information to help member economies make right policy decisions and come up with consumer protection mechanisms that can adequately address the risks consumers face in digital trade. Policymakers will be able to learn from other member economies’ or agencies’ best practices as well. Also, the policy recommendations that will be developed after the workshop will help the participants to utilize their capability and knowledge to strengthen consumer protection. 

3) Regional cooperation

This project is expected to lay the foundation for enhancing regional cooperation in the field of consumer protection in digital trade by helping member economies understand each other’s different approaches and seek areas where consensus can be reached. Such efforts can enable the development of a framework for enforcement cooperation. 

Beneficiaries: The direct beneficiaries will be the participants of the workshop, including policymakers from governments and experts from consumer protection agencies, who will be taking part in exchanging views and sharing best practices and experience in protecting consumers in cross-border transactions. The dialogue between the participants will help member economies identify what challenges they need to overcome in order to enhance consumer protection in digital trade. 

Also, the results can be circulated to other APEC fora such as CTI, EC, TELWG and etc. which can be benefitted from the outputs of the workshop in furthering discussions in sharing and coordinating digital policies. The results will also contribute to enhancing cross-fora cooperation in implementing the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap. 

In addition, the results will be circulated to other stakeholders, international organizations, and officials from APEC member economies that were unable to attend the workshop. Policymakers would be able to utilize policy recommendations developed at the workshop in their domestic settings, if appropriate. 

If the project contributes to improving consumer protection mechanisms and, in turn, fostering the digital economy even further, the ultimate beneficiaries will be consumers and businesses. This is because the potential challenges and risks of digital transactions can hinder consumers from engaging in e-commerce.

Dissemination

All materials provided at the workshop, including presentation slides and documents, will be distributed to the participants on site. They will also be made available through the APEC Information Management Portal to allow the stakeholders that have not attended the workshop access to the materials. The presentation slides and documents will be related to the current status of international rules regulating consumer protection in ecommerce, challenges in enforcing the rules and the future of building APEC framework for the enforcement of consumer protection regulations. 

In addition, the outputs, such as a summary and policy recommendations drawn from the workshop, will be published via the final report, which will be circulated to the CTI intersessionally for finalization, receiving comments from economies. It will also be made available to relevant sub-fora such as  EC, TELWG and SMEWG and ABAC as appropriate. The final report and other written outputs associated with this project, which will be publically available, will be presented to the Secretariat in a standard of English, requiring no further copy-editing. The report will be published as an APEC Publication. 

The target audience will include government officials, experts, policymakers, academic researchers, relevant agencies, and other players involved in consumer protection in digital trade. 

We have no intention of selling any outputs resulting from this project.

Gender

The project’s objectives are equally relevant to both men and women in the field of consumer protection in digital trade. Under a female PO, female working staffs will be encouraged to actively take part in the project activities. Also, PO will make her utmost effort to achieve gender balance among the speakers and participants of the workshop to meet the goal of secure at least 30 percent of women among speakers and participants so that women can be well represented during the workshop. Furthermore, the results of the workshop will be distributed to APEC members, both men and women. 

PO is committed to collect sex disaggregated data for all speakers and participants (not only the APEC funded) at the project event. This data will be included when submitting a Completion Report to the Secretariat at the completion of the project about what was achieved as well as giving future POs guidance on their own gender parity targets.

Work Plan

Time

Tasks

Deliverables

November 2018

Develop and submit the project proposal to APEC for endorsement and funding

Project proposal

November-

January 2019

Develop an execution plan for the project and workshop program

- Execution plan and

workshop program

January 2019-April 2019

Make necessary arrangements and preparations for the workshop

- invite speakers from relevant ministries, agencies, the academia, and regional and international organizations

- develop the agenda

- send invitation letters to APEC member economies

Produce First Preliminary Report to Secretariat describing expected participants and agenda in March

- Agenda of the workshop

- List of speakers/moderators/ participants

- Funding plan for travel arrangements

- First Preliminary Report

May 2019

Hold the one-day workshop on the margins of CTI2 in Chile and present a summary of its outcomes to CTI2

Circulate evaluation survey at the workshop to participants for feedbacks

June-August 2019

Evaluation of the workshop and draft reports

Produce Second Preliminary Report to Secretariat

- Summary Report- Second Preliminary Report

August-October 2019

Submit the Final Report to the CTI for consideration and intersessional endorsement

Final Report

November-December 2019

Draft, endorse and submit the Completion Report and all supporting documents to the Secretariat

Completion report

November 2019 -

November 2020

Participate in the Long Term Evaluation of APEC Projects conducted by the Secretariat

Long Term Evaluation

Risks

Risks

Mitigation Plan

Securing appropriate participants and speakers/experts

- There are discrepancies among international organizations and domestic agencies in its authority to speak on the current status of enforcing international rules and discussing on the future APEC framework for consumer protection

PO will consult and coordinate with speakers and other stakeholders in advance of the workshop. Also, PO will work closely with co-sponsoring economies to nominate and invite the most suitable speakers for the workshop and make contacts as early as possible.

In addition, the agenda of the workshop will be set as soon as possible so that PO can consult with speakers in developing the agenda with sufficient time.

Meeting the target of funded participants

PO will cooperate with Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), competent authority of consumer issues in Korea to develop agenda and invite eligible participants from funded economies. KFTC has operated a training course as a capacity building project for develping economies to share our experience of competition and cosumer policies, and some of them are funded economies of APEC. PO will also cooperate with other international organizations to invite appropriate participants from funded-participants.

Economies not applying knowledge learned or adopting recommendations from the proejct

In order to let participants maintain their access to the contents discussed at the workshop, we will upload all of the materials and documents presented at the workshop. That way, participants may access to the materials, such as best practices and expert's recommendations, more conveniently with no cost and disseminate them to other relevant domestic agencies or stakeholders. Also, PO will make sure to list the contact information of speakers and experts so that participants can reach out to them for advice. 


Monitoring and Evaluation

Project monitoring will be conducted during the project implementation period to ensure project progresses on time and on budget as the following:     

1) PO will produce detailed progress report to measure the implementation process and report it to Program Director.

PO will submit first and second preliminary report to the Secretariat duirng March and September, respectively, to ensure that the project is carried out along the timeline.

2)  PO will gather statistical data on the indicators we have presented here at the proposal before, during and after the workshop. These measurements will be presented in Progress Report, Final Report and Completion Report of the project.

3)  An evaluation survey will be circulated at the workshop to receive feedbacks from participants. 

The outcome of the project will be measured by the number of participating economics, number of participants, participation rates of female participants and speakers, number of policies shared, number of recommendations developed. These indicators will be used during the progress and after project completion for effective measurement of achieved project outputs and outcomes, and reported to the Secretariat in the Monitoring and Completion Reports. In addition, in order to ensure the utmost participation of the funded participants, we set 70 percent participation of the funded participants as a target and commit to meet this goal during project implementation. 

All speakers and participants will be requested to provide comments and feedback on various aspects of the workshop, including the presentations by speakers, whether the workshop’s objectives have been met, the overall impact and relevance of the workshop, the quality of policy recommendations, and the level of satisfaction. POs will summarize their comments and feedback to compile a report and submit it to the CTI. This will also be incorporated into the Final Report.

Linkages

This project builds on the discussion that took place during the Public-Private Dialogue on Existing and Emerging Issues related to e-Commerce and the Digital Economy, which was held on the margins of ECSG1 last March. The PPD was a platform for exploring future initiatives and areas related to e-commerce and digital economy, especially for ECSG and the implementation of the Roadmap. One of the new areas highlighted was the need for capacity building in the field of consumer protection challenges. 

The workshop will promote collaboration between APEC and non-APEC stakeholders. Relevant APEC groups, including EC, TELWG and SMEWG, and ABAC will be encouraged to participate in the workshop to promote cross-fora exchange of ideas. International experts, including those from other international organizations such as the OECD and UNCTAD, will be invited to share their expertise on consumer protection policies and exchange views with APEC member economies. The stakeholders will also be informed of the outcomes of the workshop after the event. 

The Roadmap has been endorsed by Senior Officials and have been welcomed by the Leaders in 2017. It guides the member economies to better enhance the technological and policy cooperation by setting eleven key focus areas. Considering the importance of digital economy on economic growth and the influence APEC has on member economies and beyond, APEC is well-positioned to discuss new emerging issues related to ICT-related policies.

Sustainability

After the workshop, the Final Report and workshop materials will be made available to all participants via the APEC Publication Database to the extent possible so that they can continuously refer to the materials when needed, study the information presented, and distribute them to other domestic stakeholders within their own economies with no cost. Also, through the workshop, the participants and stakeholders will have direct contact with experts so they can identify the challenges and risks of consumer protection agencies and explore ways to address them in a detailed way. 

After the project completion, next steps to further the initiatives on consumer protection in the digital trade within APEC will be explored based on the future demand and outcomes of the workshop. The comments and feedback obtained from participants via questionnaires will provide insight into possible areas of future discussions on this topic. The workshop will serve as a starting point for the process of heading towards consensus among member economies in developing a concrete and appropriate consumer protection mechanism for the APEC region. In this regard, Korea is willing to conduct future projects on this issue in a medium/long term basis at ECSG (DESG) and report to Member economies on the process at plenary meetings, if appropriate. For this project, considering the short time span between the workshop and SOM3 period, the project results will likely be circulated and reported to ECSG, CTI and other relevant fora intersessionally.

Project Overseers

Soung-In Park, Deputy Director of Regional Economic Organizations Division, International Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea has worked in the international trade area in the Ministry from 2008 to 2011and is currently in charge of the CTI and ECSG at the APEC and ecommerce at the WTO, also worked for Korea Fair Trade Commission directly handle with Consumer protection policies in Korea from 2011 to 2018.

Cost Efficiency

Not Applicable.

Drawdown Timetable

Not Applicable.

Direct Labour

Not Applicable.

Waivers

Not Applicable.

Are there any supporting document attached?

No 
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Project No.

Project Title

Project Status

Publication (if any)

Fund Account

Sub-fund

Project Year

Project Session

APEC Funding

Co-funding Amount

Total Project Value

Sponsoring Forum

Topics

Committee

Other Fora Involved

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

Proposing Economy(ies)

Co-Sponsoring Economies

Expected Start Date

Expected Completion Date

Project Proponent Name 1

Job Title 1

Organization 1

Postal Address 1

Telephone 1

Fax 1

Email 1

Project Proponent Name 2

Job Title 2

Organization 2

Postal Address 2

Telephone 2

Fax 2

Email 2

Declaration

Project Summary

Relevance

Objectives

Alignment

TILF/ASF Justification

Beneficiaries and Outputs

Dissemination

Gender

Work Plan

Risks

Monitoring and Evaluation

Linkages

Sustainability

Project Overseers

Cost Efficiency

Drawdown Timetable

Direct Labour

Waivers

Are there any supporting document attached?

hdFldAdmin

Project Number

Previous Fora

Secretariat Comments

Reprogramming Notes

Consolidated QAF

Endorsement By Fora

PD Sign Off

Batch

Forum Priority

Committee Ranking Category

Committee Priority

PDM Priority

Priority Within Funding Category

Monitoring Report Received

Completion Report Received

PMU Field 1

PMU Field 2

PMU Field 3

On Behalf Of

Proposal Status

Originating Sub-Forum

Approval Status
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