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Product safety regulations under ACCC spotlight

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is leading an effort to ensure suppliers and online retailers are aware of product safety rules and regulations in different countries.

Australians purchased an estimated $21.3 billion worth of online goods in 2017, and cross-border transactions are becoming more common, meaning there are more opportunities for unsafe products to reach local consumers.

“Under Australian Consumer Law, anyone selling products to Australian consumers must ensure their products aren’t banned here and that they meet Australia’s 42 mandatory safety standards, no matter where they are located in the world,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

But Rickard also urged Australian consumers to do their due diligence and research any items they intend to purchase online.

The ACCC has been working with a number of online marketplaces, including eBay, Etsy, AliExpress, Gumtree and Catch, to ensure compliance.

“There’s no greater priority for us than ensuring the safety of the products we sell and the satisfaction of our customers,” Catch Group chief executive Nati Harpaz said.

“With the growth in online shopping and more and more Australian consumers accessing international websites, product safety has become an issue of growing concern… we take our obligations seriously and we will always maintain our commitment to do everything we can to ensure the products sold on our platform not only offer great value but are safe.”

According to Rickard, it is essential that product safety information such as labels, warnings and descriptions are provided in the items online listing, enabling customers the chance to gauge product safety before purchase.

Platforms should integrate systems that automatically identify and remove non-compliant products, Rickard said, as items that aren’t compliant with Australian regulations must not be sold in the country.

Catch chief executive Nati Harpaz is a co-founder of Octomedia, publisher of Internet Retailing.

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