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Government Agencies Proactively Safeguard New Immigrants' Consumer Rights

Source:Department of Consumer Protection

According to the statistics released by the National Immigration Agency of the Ministry of the Interior (hereinafter referred to as the NIA), from 1987 to the end of 2019 the number of new immigrants who married Taiwanese citizens (namely, foreign spouses and those from Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau) has surpassed 550,000, and the number is still growing. Therefore, the spending power and influence of new immigrants have already played a crucial role. The relevant authorities have been paying attention to new immigrants' rights and interests. However, consumer complaints data have shown that new immigrants often have their rights and interests undermined due to communication barriers, difficulties in reading Traditional Chinese, or even a lack of consumer awareness. To this end, the Department of Consumer Protection of the Executive Yuan (hereinafter referred to as the DCP) organized the workshop on "The Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests of New Immigrants" on September 8, 2020 and invited new immigrants and representatives from relevant authorities to exchange ideas. The workshop received wide acclaim.

With adequate communication with relevant authorities such as the NIA and the assistance from the NIA, the DCP was able to receive proposals submitted by new immigrant groups and forward them to relevant authorities for discussion before the workshop took place. Moreover, 9 representatives from associations relating to new immigrants were present at the workshop where they had extensive discussions on issues and motions regarding, for example, unfair rental and lease agreement, the definition and legitimacy of multi-level marketing, how to address hard sell, sales/purchase and credit contracts signed hastily, and what to do if goods or services providers breach contracts. During the discussion, representatives from relevant authorities used simple language to respond and explain those questions sincerely.

The participating authorities also mentioned other friendly measures regarding daily consumption, for example, the plan conducted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to provide access to information in different languages through QR codes in national scenic areas. Several institutions also plan to provide consumer information in various languages. These institutions include the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Fair Trade Commission, the National Communications Commission, the Department of Land Administration of the Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan Food and Drug Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The institutions will also proactively enhance measures to protect new immigrant consumers and help them gain consumer knowledge by announcing information in 7 languages—Chinese, English, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indonesian, and Burmese—on the IFI Network established by the NIA.

The DCP reminds new immigrants to call 1950 (the national consumer consultation hotline) for inquiries relating to consumer issues. In the case of consumer disputes, new immigrants may not have to appeal to the court. Instead, they can turn to economical and simple complaint procedures (online, in-person, and written procedures) to safeguard their rights and interests. The DCP states that it will continuously supervise and urge relevant authorities to implement friendly consumer measures for new immigrants in an active manner. Moreover, the DCP will have consumer information that is essential to new immigrants translated into multiple languages and participate in promotional campaigns regularly organized by the NIA in order to promote consumer protection education among new immigrants.

Finally, the DCP thanks the associations relating to new immigrants, new immigrants themselves, and the relevant authorities for their eager participation in this workshop. Through the face-to-face exchange, new immigrants were able to precisely raise their concerns and needs related to consumer issues while the relevant authorities could devise friendlier consumer measures after precisely knowing their needs. The DCP believes that government agencies are collectively determined to safeguard the consumer rights and interests of new immigrants, which will create a friendly consumer environment for new immigrants.