Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gathering Evidence on Unfair Trade Practice in ASEAN: Challenges & Impacts

11th March, 2011, Hanoi, Vietnam

Inaugurating a one-day International Conference on Competition marking the launch of a two year regional project, entitled ‘Study on Unfair Trade Practices in select ASEAN countries’, Mr. Bach Van Mung, Director General, Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA) said, “that it is important to deal with UTPs in-order to ensure an effective competitive environment and protection of consumer welfare. According to Mung, it is a big challenge for Vietnam and all ASEAN Countries and thus it is important for competition agencies in ASEAN countries to collaborate together and ensure the end of UTPs”. He emphasised the importance of lesson sharing, dialogues within the framework of the project which would benefit the relevant stakeholders in the ASEAN countries. He affirmed the support of VCAD to ensure successful implementation of the project and acknowledged the support for CUTS International, India and International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

CUTS Hanoi Resource Centre is implementing the project in five ASEAN countries i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam with support from the IDRC The project is being initiated through the conference jointly organized by CUTS International, a civil society organisation which has done pioneering work in the field of competition and regulation in India and other developing countries and Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA) – Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Mr. Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, emphasised the importance of effective implementation of Competition and Consumer Protection legislations to effectively counter Unfair Trade Practices. Further, Mehta provided a detailed outline of the work of CUTS in the areas of competition policy and law. He indicated that CUTS is committed to assisting developing and least developed countries of Asia and Africa to advocate for competition reforms as a means to achieve economic development and consumer welfare.

Ms. Alice Pham, Director, CUTS Hanoi Resource Centre provided an overview of the project, various activities and said that at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) level, UTPs have remained a low key for a multitude of reasons. Thus, this project aspires to fill this void in the ASEAN region by generating and supporting the discussions/dialogues therein on issues related to UTPs. Pham emphasised that the project is designed on two main pillars – research and advocacy. Capacity building and networking elements are built in the whole implementation process of the project.

The meeting brought together more than 40 experts and academicians within and beyond the ASEAN region, as well as partners, advisors and select local government officials working in the field, press to discuss and exchange views on the nature and prevalence of UTPs in the region, their impacts on business growth and consumer welfare, and the legal and regulatory framework as well as institutions to deal with them, etc.

For further details, please contact:

Alice Pham, CUTS HRC, Director (; +84986310179)

To Tam, Programme Officer (; +84974765155)

Tel: +84 (0) 466 739 486; Fax: +84 (0) 462 763 606; Website:


Challenges and impacts of unfair trade practices in ASEAN

October 03, 2011 – Out of control advertising has sparked an urgent need for stringent regulations in the new Advertising Law.


At the National Assembly’s Standing Committee meeting last week, National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment head Phan Xuan Dung said that the draft law, which was under discussion and would oust the Advertising Ordinance, would tackle advertising not reflecting the true quality of products.

According to the National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children the law, expected to be approved next year, needed to stipulate clear responsibilities of advertising firms and advertisement owners, and specific procedures for addressing consumers’ complaints. These issues failed to be mentioned in the Advertising Ordinance, issued in November, 2001.

“Our committee’s supervision results show that there are too many false ads in the media, while consumers affected don’t know where to send complaints,” said this committee’s head Dao Trong Thi.

National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs’ head Truong Thi Mai said: “Consumers are being seriously misled by advertising. The law must include regulations to curb untrue advertising to protect consumers.”

Thi’s committee found that the Advertising Ordinance had become unsuitable.

For instance, Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Committee reported that over the past nine years, the municipal authorities seized about 18,000 illegal advertising boards and ribbons and stopped the use of over 1,000 telephone advertising service numbers. The authorities also fined nearly 6,000 violators. In Hanoi, the city’s authorities last year imposed a total fine of VND451 million ($451,000) on 109 violators.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the number of Vietnam’s advertising firms augmented from over 1,000 in 2002 to nearly 7,000 now, whose revenue was estimated at $900 million last year. Vietnam now has 30 foreign invested advertising firms and over 30 overseas advertising firm representative offices, which occupy 80 per cent of the country’s market share.

Noodle makers’ ad spat hits boiling point

Noodle makers’ ad spat hits boiling point

July 04, 2011

By Nguyen Thanh

Tensions between two noodle manufacturers are close to boiling point with Japanese-backed food maker Acecook unhappy about an advertising campaign by locally-owned Masan Food Corp.

Acecook Vietnam recently lodged a complaint against Masan with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA). The Japanese firm claims that Masan’s Tien Vua noodle advertisements breach the country’s competition rules and could harm Vietnam’s noodle business. They want the ads stopped.

“We are suing Masan,” an Acecook source told VIR.

The TV ad in question uses images of two different blocks of noodles, one in a light yellow soup and the other in dark yellow soup. The suggestion is that the noodles which made the soup turn dark yellow contain toxic colouring.

But Document 431/2011/AV-HCM has Acecook saying Masan’s Tien Vua noodle ads conveys misleading information about noodle quality. The Japanese firm said Masan’s spots bore signals of unhealthy competition and violated Clause 3 of Article 45 of Vietnam’s Competition Law by conveying misleading information about the quality of goods to customers.

The document said over 80 per cent of noodle in the market was marketed by big manufacturers and all products met food hygiene and safety requirements.

“Thus this ad has caused unnecessary worry amongst consumers about the use of toxic chemical colouring in the noodle sector,” said Acecook Vietnam’s general director Kajiwara Junichi.

He said while the government was trying to support enterprises to develop, this ad could “kill the noodle sector, which is very important to the majority of Vietnamese customers”.

Acecook said colouring was just one of various factors contributing to noodles’ colour. Also important were ingredients used, frying duration and temperature, and processing technology. When colouring was used, noodles might be dark yellow, but this did not mean dark yellow noodles were evidence of the use of colouring as claimed by Masan in its aid.

Tran Hung, vice chairman of Vietnam Ad Association, told VIR that an ad like Masan’s might possibly cause misunderstanding among consumers about noodle quality in the market.

But he said that when a firm wanted to sue another firm, they need sufficient evidence and had to prove losses caused by the other firm.

“If Acecook only said Masan’s ad could mislead customers, it [Acecook] will find it difficult to win a lawsuit against Masan,” said Hung.

But the Acecook source said Acecook would run a customer survey to assess the damage done by Masan’s ad.

Last week, the Ministry of Health’s Vietnam Food Administration (VFA), which licensed the Masan ad, demanded Masan change some wording in the ad to avoid consumers’ misunderstanding.

VIR tried to speak to Masan’s PR representative and lawyer, but promises of a reply are yet to bear fruit.

Challenges and impacts of unfair trade practices in ASEAN

VOVNews, March 11th, 2011

This is the major theme of a conference held in Hanoi on March 11 by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Hanoi Resource Centre in collaboration with the Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
With the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, the conference aimed to launch a two-year project entitled “Study on Unfair Trade Practices in select ASEAN countries”, from 2011-2013.

This is the result of a research cooperation programme between the CUTS Hanoi Resource Centre and partners from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The project aims to fill the aforementioned void in the ASEAN region by generating and supporting the discussions/dialogues therein on issues related to Unfair Trade Practices (UTPs).

The conference brought together Vietnamese and foreign experts and academicians in Vietnam and abroad, as well as partners, advisors and governmental officials working in the field to discuss and exchange views on the nature and prevalence of UTPs in the region. They also raised their concerns about the impacts of UTPs on business growth and consumer welfare.

UTPs, otherwise called unfair competition practices, constitute an important part of antitrust statutes of several countries in the world. In some cases, UTPs are handled by a whole separate piece of legislative act – a law on unfair competition.

UTPs have considerable, sometimes quite severe, implications on business welfare, especially that of small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and consumer welfare. However, in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), UTPs have remained in low profile for different reasons.

Addressing the event, VCA General Director Bach Van Mung said that there is growing concern in almost all economies, especially in developing countries where still lack a complete legal framework on this issue. “UTPs negatively impact on not only the competition environment but also consumer rights,” he stressed.

According to Mr Mung, eight out of ten ASEAN nations have issued laws and regulations relating to the control of UTPs. However, he said, this is a complicated issue so it is no easy task to translate these laws and regulations into practice.

The VCA General Director expressed his hope that the project on UTPs and its challenges and impacts would help regional countries complete the legal system to create a healthy competition environment for both domestic and foreign businesses.

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