ACCC releases new guidance publication “Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a new publication to provide guidance to business owners in complying with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when making country of origin (COO) claims about their products.

The new guidance, which can be found on our Resources & Documents page in pdf format (approximately 4 Mb in size), is titled “Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law” provides 30 pages of information and examples to illustrate when businesses can claim their goods are “Made in”, “Product of” or “Grown in” Australia. It also provides advice on how a business can reply on the “safe harbour” provisions contained in the ACL. The document can also be accessed from the ACCC website here where it is also available in html format.

The publication has been produced in consultation with an intergovernmental National Working Group chaired by the Department of Industry (DoI) and Treasury, and including the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service (ACBPS), the Department of Agriculture (DoA), the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). The production also required engagement with state and territory ACL regulators and a number of industry associations.

“Country of origin labels are valuable tools that allow consumers to make informed choices and let businesses compete fairly” said Rod Sims, Chairman of the ACCC.

“Many consumers specifically seek out, or are willing to pay a premium for, Australian produce or products that are made in Australia.” Sims said. “This information assists manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, retailers, advertisers and anyone else who may be making country of origin representations, in deciding what claims are appropriate for their products.”

“Businesses making false or misleading representations could face penalties of up to $1.1 million under the ACL. In a recent case, the Federal Court ordered two companies supplying solar panels to pay a combined penalty of $145,000, in part, for making false and misleading country of origin representations. In addition to the monetary penalties, the Court also made other orders by consent including declarations, injunctions, corrective advertising and an order that the businesses make a contribution towards the ACCC’s costs.”

“Any claim that is likely to mislead consumers about the origin of a product will breach the law. Credence claims are a priority area for the ACCC, particularly those with the potential to adversely impact the competitive process and small businesses.”

I commend the publication as a valuable read for anyone, whether they be a manufacturer, importer, retailer, or consumer. It provides a better understanding of the ACL as it relates to country of origin claims about goods.

If you have any questions regarding the guidance provided in the publication, please Contact Us to discuss.

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