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The APEC Ministerial Meeting held in Bali on 4/5 October agreed to the “progression of advertising standards in the region.” This is a huge step forward and will enable the recommendations from the November 2012 Hanoi Dialogue on ‘Advertising Standards – Principles and Practice’ to be implemented.
A key issue identified at the Dialogue was the need to build capacity. This also was recognised by the Ministerial Meeting generally. Paragraph 46 of the Ministerial Statement states –
“We encouraged interested economies to explore the possibility of using additional tools to strengthen their implementation of good regulatory practices, including single on-line locations for regulatory information, prospective regulatory planning, including regulatory agendas, and retrospective reviews of existing regulations. We instructed officials to develop capacity-building programs to assist APEC economies in improving their understanding on these tools.”
Also important was that the Ministers recognized that best practice regulation reduces barriers to trade thus fostering economic growth and that advertising regulation is a vital component. Paragraph 50 of the Statement states –
“We recognized the work on regulatory approaches on reducing technical barriers to trade and fostering greater regulatory cooperation in the region including through the revised APEC Regulatory Cooperation Advancement Mechanism (ARCAM) on Trade-Related Standards and Technical Regulations and we welcomed discussions on electric vehicles as the topic for the 2014 ARCAM Dialogue. We look forward to the progression of work on advertising standards in the region.”
The Advertising Standards Bureau Australia (ASBA), which has been leading the project on behalf of advertising regulatory organizations, has been liaising with APEC. It announced that it and international partners are now planning the way ahead and assisting APEC. It is anticipated that there will be substantial progress in 2014. In a just released statement ASBA said –
“APEC will soon finalise a project on identifying gaps in the advertising system and standards in the region. From there APEC members will take action to use the resources of existing systems, such as those in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Canada and others, to provide capacity building training and development to bring the systems and standards in all APEC economies to a level that will best benefit all communities.”
The Ministerial Statement may be found on this link
The ASBA statement may be found on this link
There was a follow-up by APEC to the November Dialogue in Hanoi on Advertising Standards – Principles and Practice. Fiona Jolly, who was the organiser of the Dialogue, was asked to report to the APEC Conference on Good Regulatory Practices held at Medan, Indonesia at the end of June. Her presentation was comprehensive and summarised the discussion at the Dialogue and the recommendations for the future.
Proceedings at the Conference are now available. A copy of the text of Fiona’s presentation and the accompanying PowerPoint may be viewed at http://www.ffar.org Click on ‘Reports’ and then ‘Fiona’s Presentation’.
In late July the United Nations resolved to establish an Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. The Task Force will be led by WHO. Its main objective is to coordinate all UN organisations to implement the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. The Global Action Plan has various strategies to deal with NCDs arising from tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. See WHO press release http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/ncds_ecosoc_20130722/en/index.html
The Global Action Plan makes several references to the need for advertising and marketing regulation. However one of the issues identified in the WHO press release is the need for UN organisations to increase their capacity to so they can implement the strategies.
The capacity problem was also identified at the November 2012 APEC Dialogue in Hanoi. Five recommendations were made – see post below of 30 January. One of the recommendations was,
“4. Capacity Building – There is a need for capacity building to promote effective self-regulation and help economies develop appropriate systems. Two initiatives are suggested:
– Regulatory Mentorship Program – A mentoring program on such issues as advertising standards legislation, regulations and development of regulatory codes
– Self-Regulatory Organisation Workshop – A technical workshop held in 2013 for economies seeking to build capacity for the effective establishment and/or improved operation of a self-regulatory regime.”
This and the other recommendations are currently under consideration by APEC.
WHO and the UN have identified that increased capacity is required by UN agencies in several areas. One of those areas is the assistance in the development of best practice advertising regulation. The Hanoi Dialogue concluded that industry and Governments need increased capacity so that economies can develop best practice systems.
The problem of lack of capacity has been clearly identified but there is no need to wait for the UN agencies, WHO or APEC to start the process. Consumers need to be properly protected and empowered by best practice advertising regulation. It is also in the self-interest of industry to satisfy consumer interests by protecting and empowering them. Industry therefore has a key role in building capacity and working with Governments, UN agencies, WHO and NGOs in developing best practice advertising regulatory systems.