PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 12:00am

I refer to Danny Gittings' 'Inside Track' column (Sunday Morning Post, November 21) on the subject of the Trade Marks Bill.

The position of the Consumer Council on the issue of parallel imports is clear and has been well-established for years. Let me state unequivocally for the record: we consider that restrictions on parallel imports should be removed and we strongly support the provisions regarding parallel imports proposed in the Trade Marks Bill.

Experiences in other markets have shown that restrictions on parallel imports disadvantage consumers by perpetuating high prices and limiting the availability and range of goods. They also restrict competition.

As a matter of general principle, the Consumer Council prefers there to be consistency between the different statutes on the same issue so as to avoid confusion.

The council has lobbied hard for the removal of restrictions on parallel imports under the Copyright Ordinance. We were most disappointed when the ordinance was passed with criminal sanctions against parallel importation of a product within 18 months of the product's first publication in Hong Kong or elsewhere.

From the consumer's perspective, we consider it important that adequate information is given to consumers about any difference in quality and the availability or otherwise of after-sales service in respect of parallel imports.

The Government is well aware of the council's stance on parallel imports through the many submissions which the council has submitted in the past.

On the Trade Marks Bill, we put in two submissions to the Bills Committee of the Legislative Council. There is no question of the Consumer Council not putting its case across effectively on this important issue.

CHAN WONG-SHUI Chief Executive Consumer Council