UNCTAD DISCUSISON GROUP ON INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION REPORTED ON THE WORK PROGRESS
The 17th session of UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Competition Law and Policy opened on 11 July 2018 in Geneva (Switzerland).
The opening remarks were given by UNCTAD General Secretary, Mukhisa Kituyi; Head of Competition and Consumer Policies Branch, UNCTAD, Tereza Moreira; and a professor of New York University, Eleanor Fox. President of Pakistan Competition Commission, Vadiyya Khalil, was elected to chair 17th session of UNCTAD IGE.
UNCTAD Discussion Group on International Cooperation, formed upon a FAS initiative at the 16th session of UNCTAD IGE (July 2017) and worked through 2017-2018, reported on the work progress. UNCTAD Secretariat together with the Discussion Group conducted a survey on obstacles against international cooperation between competition authorities (available on UNCTAD web-site).
The Discussion Group also started working on the text of draft Toolkit on international cooperation of competition authorities to counter restrictive business practices and cross-border violations of the competition rules (further on referred to as the draft Toolkit), presented earlier at the 16th session of UNCTAD IGE by Head of FAS Igor Artemiev.
Deputy Head of FAS Andrey Tsyganov gave a detailed account on the drafting the Toolkit. At the outset, the speaker pointed out: “In the introductory speech UNCTAD General Secretary emphasized that international cooperation plays the key role in suppressing violations of the competition rules on cross-border markets. Competition authorities must work together and UNCTAD plays the leading role in strengthening potential of competition authorities. The draft Toolkit is designed to achieve these objectives”.
Draft Toolkit formalizes practical mechanisms and methods of international cooperation between competition authorities. All largest international organization and associations consider issues of international cooperation, which is confirmed by numerous documents on various aspects of international interaction between competition authorities.
The Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices adopted in 1980 is one of fundamental global documents on competition policy covering international cooperation. Since then, global economy has been transformed considerably, more than 100 jurisdictions and some regional economic associations adopted and apply the law on competition, and the number of cross-border violations of the antimonopoly law and global mergers and acquisitions is increasing year-on-year. High dynamics of economic processes and the speed of making administrative decisions require adequate responses by competition authorities. In this context, significant modernization of the Set is necessary; particularly, include practical mechanisms of cooperation between the antimonopoly bodies available to all competition authorities in the world.
Andrey Tsyganov added that the text of the draft Toolkit is open for discussion and proposals to all competition authorities in the world. “We propose to jointly create en efficient document incorporating the best practices of international cooperation, particularly, achievements of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Competition Network (ICN), and regional associations. The same as the UN Set of Competition Principles and Rules in general, the Toolkit will serve as guidelines without binding provisions”.
Andrey Tsyganov pointed out that UNCTAD Secretariat carried out enormous work within the frame of the Discussion Group for intensive discussion of international cooperation. As a result, many comments were received from competition authorities and regional associations on the text of the draft Toolkit, while FAS prepared an updated version of the draft Toolkit, also available for further discussion.
“Through our joint efforts we have achieved broader ownership and got a document, which is a product of work of active members of the Discussion Group, representing countries from all continents, at different levels of social-and-economic development. Thus, the draft Toolkit initially prepared by FAS has now multiple co-sponsors. At this stage, we consider co-sponsorship not as full consent to the text of the document but as acknowledgment of the importance and necessity of work in this area and readiness to cooperation”, stated Andrey Tsyganov.
Finally, Deputy Head of FAS presented a plan for further refining the draft Toolkit.
Speakers during the discussion included representatives of Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Burkina Faso, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, OECD, Peru, Salvador, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tunisia and the US. Many delegates supported the idea of devising an international document containing practical mechanisms and methods of cooperation between competition authorities and were in favor of continuing the work of UNCTAD Discussion Group on international cooperation.