SCED speaks on consumer protection and trade issues
Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at a media session on consumer protection and trade issues at the Legislative Council (LegCo) Complex today (April 18):
Reporter: Mr Yau, can you explain again the benefit of enacting this mandatory cooling-off period? How would it protect the rights of consumers? Can you also give some ideas about which industries will be covered by this law? Secondly, you talked about person-to-person telemarketing calls and proposing legislation. Are you saying that the Government will introduce a piece of draft bill to LegCo in the coming year?
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: I will address your second question first. As we have presented to the LegCo Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting two weeks ago, the Government has concluded its public consultation exercise, coming to the point that there seems to be a strong voice among parties and also in the wider community for us to introduce some mandatory provisions, perhaps through the enactment of legislation to allow people to put a stop to sales calls which seem to be on the rise and causing a lot of complaints. After this consultation exercise, which came to a consensus, we will be drafting a legislative framework setting out all the criteria and provisions and then bring it back to LegCo, with a view to seeing if it stands a chance of turning it into a piece of law.
The other thing that I have mentioned, on which we aim to protect consumer rights, is in fact a proposal we assigned the Consumer Council to study in the past two years about the introduction of a cooling-off period for certain sales of services or products. We have heard quite a number of complaints among certain trades, in particular the beauty service and the fitness service, where circumstances tell us that the amount of the contracts could be very substantial (in value) and people may be signing up for a very disproportionate long period of time. There were also complaints about the malpractices in the way such contracts are being introduced and forced upon consumers. So, we are examining the proposal which has arrived at my desk today. I understand the Consumer Council will also be publicising their proposal tomorrow through an open forum. We will hear what the plan will be. We will also start to put this into a legislative framework and consult the public widely. Hopefully, if there is a consensus, we will proceed further and see if we can introduce certain laws for a cooling-off period for particular types of trades that I have mentioned.
Reporter: You have just explained why the Government has written to the United States about the trade restriction, what is the point of that?
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: In furthering what we have done on the US' unilateral and discriminatory sanctions on Hong Kong's export of aluminium products to the US, we have issued an additional letter about a week ago, setting out our rationale against the US' imposition of such tariffs on Hong Kong's export of aluminium products. We are seeking exclusion of Hong Kong from that sanction list. We are awaiting the US' reply. Depending on the response given by the US, we will consider what is the next step, including what actions will be taken through the multilateral channels. Thank you.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, April 18, 2018