The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) successfully completed a training program on the ‘International Best Practices for the Regulation of Online Trading’ last Friday (22). Over 60 CAA officials based in Colombo as well as the regions participated in the training. The event took place virtually within the framework of the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project funded by the European Union (EU) with ITC as the lead implementing agency.
The training was held against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which has led to an increase in E-commerce and online trading activities in Sri Lanka over the last year and brought to attention the need for a strengthened framework to protect consumers as well as online businesses.
Dr. Dayaratna Silva, National Project Coordinator, EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance project said, “In the marketplace, there are a number of agents – producers, retailers, traders, and consumers. The consumers are on the receiving end and face a huge asymmetry of information.”
The training session was structured based on a guide to online trading produced at the request of the CAA by ITC Consultant (Lawyer), Dr. Michael Geist. Dr. Geist also acted as the main trainer of the event. The session aimed to train CAA officials and other stakeholders on the importance of consumer trust, and international best practices and guidelines to be followed in matters relating to functioning and operating online trade. It focused on the various components of E-commerce transactions such as pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase activities.
Speaking at the event, Major general (Retired) D. M. S. Dissanayaka, Chairman, CAA explained that following the lockdown and the significant increase in online purchasing the CAA was prompted to develop a set of guidelines for consumer protection with the support of ITC. “In addition to this, ITC also extended their support to conduct trainings for CAA officials on the International best practices for the regulation of online trading. I would like to thank ITC for their assistance in this regard which no doubt will help promote consumer trust and economic activities in Sri Lanka in the online domain,” he said.
ITC has been working closely with Sri Lanka to provide support on E-commerce related matters since March 2018. This work began with the 1st Public Private Dialogue (PPD) which was organized in collaboration with the CAA. Over the years, ITC has also supported relevant authorities to make amendments and revisions to legislation including Consumer Protection, Data Protection and Cybersecurity.