Billions of people are facing the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation due to rising food and energy prices amid rapid inflation and increasing debt, leaving the most vulnerable consumers in a dire situation, said the UN trade and development body, UNCTAD on Tuesday. UNCTAD’s analysis shows that a 10 per cent increase in food prices will trigger a five per cent decrease in the incomes of the poorest families, roughly equivalent to the amount those families would normally spend on healthcare.
As consumers try to reduce their spending, they will pay a high price if they buy cheaper, but unsafe products. The United States reports 43,000 deaths and 40 million injuries per year associated with consumer products, with yearly costs of over $3,000 per capita. “Governments must strive to continue and succeed in their long-term mission of protecting their consumers, a mission of renewed relevance today,” said UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan at the organization’s intergovernmental meeting on consumer protection held on 18 and 19 July.
Keeping consumers safe is generally a top priority for governments around the world. UNCTAD research shows , with a developed network of laws and standards promoting product safety. While more developed countries have put in place product safety frameworks, including laws, enforcement institutions, recall mechanisms and communication campaigns, developing countries with weaker systems, UNCTAD said, are less able to regulate the scourge of unsafe products. More international cooperation is therefore needed to improve product safety for all.
In 2020 UNCTAD adopted its first recommendation on product safety. It aims to curb the flow of unsafe products being traded internationally, by strengthening ties among consumer product safety authorities and sensitizing businesses and consumers. UNCTAD says consumers’ vulnerability is heightened since they may be unaware that health or safety requirements vary from country to country and may assume that all products on sale online are safe. As consumers often underestimate risk and may decide to purchase the cheapest products out of financial necessity.
Shipping companies are working towards sustainable maritime transport as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to UNCTAD’s World Consumer Protection Map, 60 per cent of countries lack experience in cross-border enforcement when it comes to consumer protection. High-level officials participating in the UNCTAD meeting agreed that preventing cross-border distribution of known unsafe consumer products is a priority for countries, as it can improve consumer confidence and boost sustainable economic development.
Source: The UN
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