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The Fight for responsible internet alcohol sales

In light of the growing illegal trade in the industry, the Alcoholic Beverages Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (ABAPI) reaffirmed its commitment to encouraging responsible online sales of its goods.

The e-Commerce Pledge to combat the illicit trade in alcohol, which has a variety of detrimental socioeconomic effects on the nation, was signed on Thursday by 14 distributors of alcoholic beverages and the online marketplace Lazada.

Hermance Dela Bastide, director of the Asia Pacific International Spirits and Wines Alliance (APISWA), claimed that the Philippines suffers from one of the highest financial losses from illicit alcohol consumption in the ASEAN and also has a significant amount of alcohol consumption that is not documented.

According to data from the “Tackling Illicit Trade in ASEAN” initiative, the Philippine government lost USD438 million in 2016 as a result of illegal alcohol sales, falling behind Vietnam ($441 million) but ahead of Thailand ($83 million) and Indonesia ($69 million), which also suffered similar losses.

Alcohol that is illegal is defined as being in violation of national laws and taxes. A bottle of alcohol included in a Balikbayan box is an example of unrecorded alcohol that is not included in the official taxation figures.

According to data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Health Observatory 2022, the highest percentage of alcoholic beverages consumed in the Philippines in 2019—31%—was not recorded. This was higher than Brunei’s 22%, Thailand’s 21%, China’s 20%, South Korea’s 14%, Singapore’s 14%, and Japan’s 14%.

The biggest percentage of alcohol consumption that is not officially reported occurs in Vietnam (57%), Indonesia (56%), Cambodia (43%), Malaysia (38%), and Laos (33%).

As the nation’s e-commerce industry expands, Assistant Secretary Jean Pacheco of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasized the significance of selling alcoholic beverages responsibly.

According to her, 3,559 new business names relating to selling alcoholic beverages were registered between 2020 and 2022.

She continued by saying that 5% of all online orders for food and beverages include alcoholic drinks.

Although the number of consumer complaints regarding alcoholic beverages is very modest, it is rising during the month of May year over year. The majority of these have to do with the quality and safety of consumer items, product liability, and misleading, unfair, or unethical conduct or practices in sales.

Director General Rowel Barba of the Intellectual Property Agency of the Philippines (IPOPHL) stated that his agency has been working closely with the main online retailers in the nation to get rid of products that violate intellectual property (IP).

He said that from August to September 2021 and March to April 2022, Lazada increased the removal of listings that violated intellectual property rights by 118% while Shopee, another online retailer, eliminated 400% more items that violated IP.

Speaking about the country’s detrimental socioeconomic effects of illicit booze, Barba stated the trend is frightening if it will continue.

“This could result in our people’s deaths or lasting health effects. This is particularly concerning since we lost revenue that we could have used to advance our nation, he continued.

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