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DTI estimates e-commerce sellers at 2 million, exceeding forecasts

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the number of entities doing business as online sellers has risen to 2 million, far larger than the department’s projections.

“As of our estimate for 2022, we are at 2 million e-commerce participants. We had a roadmap in 2021 with an estimate of 750,000 by 2022 but we now see based on our data that we reached 2 million,” DTI Assistant Secretary Ann Claire C. Cabochan told PTV on Tuesday.

“We continue to monitor that these online sellers comply with existing laws. If you recall, the Consumer Act doesn’t make a distinction between online sellers and those that sell in physical stores. They all have to adhere to the same rules; it’s the same treatment. We emphasize what their responsibilities are and we are monitoring them very closely at this time,” she added.

She cited the national standard guidelines for e-commerce operators.

In March, the DTI, along with the Intellectual Property Office, the National Privacy Commission and other agencies, issued a joint order on the laws and regulations governing online businesses.

The order regulates business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce transactions to increase confidence in e-commerce overall.

Ms. Cabochan said the DTI is also concerned about practices like unfair pricing.

“The products, even if imported… must (fairly reflect) the purchase price,” she said, even adjusting for the exchange rate. “We remind sellers (to refrain) from unfair trade practices. We have the law that will allow us to run after those that take advantage of the situation,” she said.

“We used to have problems (obtaining the details of) a seller on an online platform. Now, with the help of the (National Privacy Commission), we can get the details of a seller and the platform has to release them to the DTI if there’s a complaint,” she added.

In the nine months to September, complaints arising from online transactions totaled about 8,000 out of the 21,406 complaints about transactions in all selling formats.

“Those matters within the purview of DTI are mostly about liabilities and service imperfections for defective products, warranties, and the like,” Ms. Cabochan said.

“If you feel you are being short changed or scammed, you can file a complaint with the DTI,” she added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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