Analyzing the New Cosmetics Law

Following the enactment this past March of the new Act Governing Cosmetic Sanitation and Safety (the Cosmetics Act for short), the Cosmetics Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei made a number of suggestions for remedying shortcomings in the law through the implementation regulations that are yet to be drafted. In its position paper in the newly published 2018 Taiwan White Paper, the Cosmetics Committee said that many of the problems stem from the law’s ambiguous wording and its deviations from international practice.

Of primary concern is the definition of “cosmetics” under the Act. The new law fails to include two important functions – “protection” and “maintenance of good condition” for skin and oral care – in its definitions of cosmetics. The explanation by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) for the absence of these two phrases is that they are difficult to translate into Chinese, but the Committee questioned why the translation would be so difficult.

Sunscreen and antioxidant products, for instance, serve to provide skin “protection” and “maintenance” purposes respectively, but under the current definition of cosmetics, suppliers wonder whether they will be able to make advertising claims for those benefits.

This discrepancy, the Chamber argues, could inadvertently create technical barriers to trade, opening Taiwan to trade disputes before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Taiwan should refrain from setting unique regulatory requirements that may result in technical barriers to trade,” reads the position paper.

The reclassification of non-medical toothpaste and mouthwash as cosmetics also poses new challenges. Suppliers may need to reformulate or repackage some products within a limited timeframe set by the TFDA.

Enforcement rules have yet to be released, but the Committee suggests providing a sufficient transition period for manufacturers. It also recommends ensuring that ingredient standards are aligned with those of other countries like the United States, European Union, and Japan.

The Committee also calls into question the clause on “Corrective Advertisements,” which requires suppliers to issue a public apology for a “serious incident” involving a product. “Considering the vagueness of the term ‘serious incidents,’ it is quite uncertain how this clause will be enforced,” reads the position paper. The Committee notes that such a regulation threatens the freedom of supplies, is unique to Taiwan, and risks arbitrary interpretation. Regulation should spur industry advancement rather than impose burdensome constraints, it argues.

For the full White Paper on cosmetics in Taiwan, click here.

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