Giving Taiwan’s Cosmetics Regulations a Makeover

Taiwan’s Statute for Control of Cosmetics Hygiene (the Cosmetics Act for short) was first enacted in 1972. Now the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) is proposing a series of amendments aimed at modernizing the law to take into account developments in the cosmetics industry over the past four-plus decades.

In the recently published 2017 Taiwan White Paper of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, the newly established Cosmetics Committee provided a number of suggestions to the TFDA on how to make the draft bill more effective by conforming to current international best practices. The aim should be to protect consumer interests while bolstering – rather than burdening – the flow of commerce.

Some of the specific recommendations in the Committee’s position paper include:

  • Facilitate trade by harmonizing the content of the Cosmetics Act with similar legislation enacted by Taiwan’s major international trading partners. Currently even the definition of cosmetics products in the bill is too narrow and is out of sync with the definition used in most leading markets. In addition, any restrictions on ingredients should be based on sound scientific evidence and be aligned with the regulations of major trading partners such as the United States, the EU, and Japan.
  • Follow common international practice by recognizing other countries’ Cosmetics GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards. Insisting that foreign manufacturers selling into the Taiwan market follow only the Taiwan standards “will inevitably lead to significant technical barriers to trade,” the position paper says. Instead, Taiwan should accept its trading partners’ equivalent GMP systems (such as the U.S. Guidelines for Cosmetics GMP) as commensurate, thus streamlining the regulatory process and expediting trade.
  • Drop the requirement in the bill that the name and contact information of the physical manufacturer or processor be included on the product label. The Committee describes this requirement as “meaningless” when applied to imported products, since it is the local supplier who holds the product liability and would be contacted by the Taiwan consumer in case of any problem. Identifying the local supplier on the label should therefore be sufficient.
  • Reconsider the provision in the draft authorizing health-authority personnel to determine whether cosmetic advertising claims are “seriously exaggerating or untrue,” and requiring violators to publish apologies by means of “corrective advertisements.” The Committee notes that the scope of authority given the health authorities would exceed their professional competence, and potentially could seriously damage companies’ reputations without recourse to due process.
  • Treat toothpaste and mouthwash separately from other cosmetic products. The amended law would bring toothpaste and mouthwash under the control of the Cosmetics Act for the first time. To ensure a smooth transition, the Committee cited areas in which the treatment of toothpaste and mouthwash needs special consideration compared to other products covered by the law.

To read the full Cosmetics position paper, click here.