03-12-2019 | 11:50

Which ultimately will have a positive effect upon the quality of joint investigations of global markets and enable to combine efforts of different countries against cross-border violators

On 19 November, the V International Research-to-Practice Conference – “Antimonopoly Policy: Science, Practice, Education” in Skolkovo Innovation Centre included a session on international cooperation in investigating antimonopoly violations, where experts discussed the topicality of international collaboration for developing countries and exchanged experiences in this field.

Head of FAS Department for International Economic Cooperation Lesya Davydova talked about diversity of the efforts undertaken by Russian antimonopoly body in this direction.

She informed that in the epoch of new economic reality, violations propagate at the speed of light and the speed of antimonopoly regulation should match it. Cross-border violations of the competition rules increase, as well as global mergers, which have effect on global markets.

The speaker emphasized that the work towards developing international economic cooperation is carried out in line with the orders given by the President of the Russian Federation. One of the fundamental principles of the state policy towards competition development, formalized in the National Competition Development Plan, is improving antimonopoly regulation under the conditions of digital economy and globalization in order to efficiently suppress cross-border antimonopoly violations and enhance competitiveness of Russian companies on the world markets.

Lesya Davydova gave details of the formats and forms of cooperation with foreign competition authorities, particular, within the CIS.

“For more than 20 years, FAS has been working in the CIS space. In 2006 the CIS Headquarters on Joint Investigations of the Antimonopoly Law at the Inter-state Council on Antimonopoly Policy was formed. During this period, studies of socially important markets were conducted, and reports based on five such studies are approved by the Council of the Heads of CIS Governments.  The conclusions and recommendations from all studies are applicable and are used in the practice of the antimonopoly bodies of the CIS member-states”, said Head of FAS Department for International Economic Cooperation.

She informed that FAS is strengthening bilateral cooperation with competition authorities of other countries, concluding the so-called “new level” agreements with provisions that enable enforcement collaboration and specifics forms of such collaboration (exchanging information, consultations, orders on legal proceedings, etc.).

One of such documents is the Agreement between the Governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus on cooperation in the field of competition protection that came into effect at the end of July 2019.

“This is the first bilateral international agreement formalizing “advanced” tools of result-oriented interaction in enforcement”, commented Lesya Davydova.

The speaker also covered cooperation within BRICS and the results of the efforts of the Working Groups on pharmaceuticals, automotive industry, food products and digital.

She highlighted the obstacles emerging in cooperation with competition authorities of other countries and highlighted the success factors of international cooperation: mutual trust, the adequate framework and agency’s reputation.

“Normative or practical barriers often hamper efficient interaction such as lack of trust, cultural and ethical differences. It is possible to overcome everything. We hope that developing our interaction on a daily basis, contacting with our colleagues, we will achieve success, we will trust each other better, can approximate our legal and enforcement approaches. And we hope that the Basic principles and procedures of international cooperation that are on the agenda of the VIII UN Conference in 2020 will facilitate it”, concluded Lesya Davydova.

Pierre Horna, UNCTAD legal officer described UNCTAD work in the field of competition policy.

The expert said that “UN has been discussing competition since this organization was founded in 1945. It is an important theme because competition policy is the main ingredient of economic development. Competition policy and countering restrictive business practices are important in the context of international trade.  They were in the focus of discussions since the very outset of UNCTAD”.

“Globalization is advancing with gigantic strides so there is always a need for cooperation. We would like to promote the idea of trust to make it easier for competition authorities to talk with each other. Our goal is to simplify their dialogue, and adopting the Set of principles and rules of international cooperation will facilitate it”, continued Pierre Horna.

He described the structure of the Set of principles and rules of international cooperation и and emphasized that “it is the first case when the theory and practice are integrated”.

Superintendant of Administrative Council for Economic Defence (Brazil), Alexandre Cordeiro Macedo shared Brazil’s experience of international cooperation.

“To make international cooperation efficient, very often it’s enough to simply pick up the phone”, joked Mr. Macedo at the beginning of his speech.  “I should know people on the other end of the line. Mutual trust is an important factor of such cooperation”.

“Our agencies face similar problems. Sometimes solutions that we make in Brazil can be helpful to you and vice versa. We are in the same boat, fight violations, protecting our markets; we have the same goal – protect competition. I refuse to believe that someone can think that international cooperation is a bad thing”, stated Mr. Macedo.

Anna Pozdnyakova, a researcher at BRICS Antimonopoly Centre, informed about future projects and prospective areas of the work of the Centre:

“We, at the BRICS Antimonopoly Centre see our main task in assisting BRICS competition authorities across the entire spectrum of antimonopoly issues. We have plans to study some BRICS markets in–depth if there are competition concerns, and provide consultations and expert support in investigating particular cases”. 

Anna Pozdnyakova emphasized that BRICS Centre will continue drafting academic reports such as reports on the state of competition in the agro-industrial sector and digital economy. 

Irina Knyazeva, Head of Competition Policy and Economy Centre, at the Siberian Institute of Management – a branch of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, presented the results of the Centre’s efforts to analyses international experience of information exchange in antimonopoly enforcement, including a detailed substantial analysis of bilateral agreements and memorandums of foreign competition authorities.

Expressing the collective opinion of the discussion participants, Lesya Davydova said that “cooperation in enforcement is a pledge of efficient performance of antimonopoly authorities, the role of which can hardly be overestimated in the modern conditions”.

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