GENEVA, Sept 26 (KUNA) -- Members of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN), already well advanced in using e-commerce, should boost the
development payoff of these technologies by taking steps to build consumer
trust, address payment fraud, and overcome difficulties in assessing the
quality of products offered online, said a new UNCTAD report launched on
The report, titled Review of E-commerce Legislation Harmonization in the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also urges that attention be paid to
harmonization concerns related to online privacy, identity theft, and the
currently limited access to complaint systems.
The review notes that the policy challenges for many ASEAN countries
include how to increase Internet penetration to levels that will make
e-commerce a more viable option for enterprises.
The report said ASEAN was the first region in the developing world to adopt
a harmonized legal framework for e-commerce. Ten years later, it is the most
advanced developing region regarding the implementation of harmonized
e-commerce laws. However, in a region as diverse as Southeast Asia, the
approach taken by countries has been to refer to international instruments
without having binding e-commerce laws for the whole region.
The harmonization process focuses on achieving predictability in the use of
Country-to-country disparities in the uptake of information and
communication technology (ICT) remain substantial, the study notes, especially
in terms of Internet use and fixed broadband deployment. Mobile penetration is
generally high, except in Myanmar. The report says that mobile devices offer
considerable potential for commerce, as well as for mobile financial services
which have already been adopted widely in some ASEAN countries, said the
The review's proposals are intended to accelerate the process of regional
integration and harmonization as outlined in the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015.
Electronic commerce is seen as a key component for ASEAN to realize its
vision of a regionally integrated economy. Having a single e-commerce market
will enable ASEAN member States to take advantage of the rapid economic
development within the region and in other neighbouring countries.
The harmonization of e-commerce laws is essential for driving further
regional integration via e-commerce, trade facilitation, tourism, outsourcing,
e-government, cloud computing, mobile commerce, and social networking, the
Among UNCTAD's recommendations are an ASEAN roadmap for e-commerce should
be commissioned, and a multi-year project set up to tie together regional,
bilateral and national activities in one coordinated package. This approach
would help individual member States as well as the ASEAN secretariat to
monitor progress against the 2015 targets for e-commerce.
It also highlights steps that should be taken to build the capacities of
policymakers and users in relevant areas of e-commerce, especially to address
cybersecurity concerns and to build trust among potential consumers.
A common training and resource facility on e-commerce should be
established, and 24/7 national contact points should be set up to enforce laws
prohibiting cross-border cybercrime, the handling of cross-border consumer
complaints should be harmonized - a step that will require an agreement
between national consumer protection regulators, complemented by appropriate
investigation and referral tools are part of the recommendatios.
they also urged ASEAN members to consider becoming participants in the
International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (to date, only the
Philippines and Viet Nam are members), develop a mutual recognition agreement,
which would detail minimum acceptable standards for electronic signatures and
related "trust" services to facilitate cross-border e-commerce.
With regard to data protection/privacy laws, there has also been much
progress, although there is scope for more harmonization, the report contends.
Three countries (Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore) have passed privacy
legislation, and Indonesia and Viet Nam have partial privacy legislation in
place, while Brunei Darussalam and Thailand are discussing draft legislation.
Progress in the area of consumer protection for online transactions in the
region is mixed. Six out of 10 countries already have legislation in place.
Two have partial laws (Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia). The Lao People's
Democratic Republic has draft laws, while Cambodia has yet to commence work in
this area. (end)
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