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Agreement Signed between Hong Kong Consumer Council and Consumers Association of Singapore for Joint Co-operation in Consumer Dispute Referral Mechanism
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaboration on cross-border consumer disputes was signed today (September 6) between the Hong Kong Consumer Council (HKCC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), with the establishment of an information exchange and referral mechanism to strengthen cooperation between the two parties in the resolution of consumer disputes. This is the first MoU the Council has signed with a consumer body in Southeast Asia following the similar agreements signed with the Korea Consumer Agency in 2017, and the National Consumer Affairs Centre of Japan in 2018.
The new mechanism is stipulated to cover consumer disputes arising from tourists between the two places as well as the disputes related to online shopping. Under the agreement, residents of either Hong Kong or Singapore involved in consumer disputes with traders in the other party’s territory can lodge their complaints with the respective local consumer body for referral to the other party’s consumer body for follow-up.
There has been continual growth in cross-border travel and consumption of Singapore and Hong Kong residents in recent years. According to the figures released by the Singapore Tourism Board, there were 473,124 Hong Kong tourists visiting Singapore in 2018, showing an increase of 1.58% when compared with that of 2017. Similarly, Hong Kong is also a favourite travel destination for Singapore visitors and the statistics of the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed that there were 610,508 visitors from Singapore last year, representing an increase of 2.7% when compared with that of the previous year.
Between 2016 and 2018, the Consumer Council received a total of 73 complaints from Singapore visitors of which half were related to sales tactics (26%) and service quality (21%). On the other hand, in the past 3 years, CASE received 27 complaints from Hong Kong visitors.
Owing to the constraints of their tight itineraries, some consumers may be unable to lodge complaints with the local consumer body. Upon returning home, they may encounter difficulties to pursue their complaints due to cross-border complications and end up dropping their case eventually. The MoU will effectively address these problems, bringing into place an exchange mechanism that will not only help resolve consumer disputes but, in the long run, will also promote positive development of the tourism and retail industry for both territories.