HEADS OF BRICS COMPETITION AUTHORITIES DISCUSSED KEY ISSUES OF FIVE-PARTY COOPERATION
On July 23, the Heads of BRICS competition authorities met via videoconference. The event was held under the auspices of the Russian Federation's presidency of the BRICS interstate association in 2020
The meeting was opened by the Head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service Igor Artemiev, announcing the indefinite extension of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BRICS Competition Authorities on Cooperation in the field of Competition Law and Policy.
"Coordination between our agencies is highly advanced. We have the opportunity to conduct joint consultations and investigations, for which I would like to give special thanks to my colleagues. We have signed a Declaration of the Heads of BRICS competition agencies, the purpose of which is to extend for an indefinite period the Memorandum of understanding between BRICS competition agencies in the field of cooperation in the field of competition law and policy. This is the first five-party document signed within the framework of the Russian Federation's presidency of the BRICS interstate association in 2020, which demonstrates the commitment of the BRICS antimonopoly regulators to develop and strengthen cooperation between our countries in the field of antimonopoly policy," said Igor Artemiev.
During the meeting, the parties discussed the impact of the pandemic on the markets of the BRICS countries, as well as measures to maintain a healthy competitive environment in the current conditions. Special attention was paid to the issues of consolidating five-party efforts to combat the negative economic consequences of the pandemic and promoting the gradual resumption and stabilization of the economy in the context of the gradual removal of restrictive measures.
In order to confirm the willingness of the competition agencies to cooperate in the context of the pandemic and promote competition in the BRICS countries, the Heads of the BRICS competition agencies adopted a Joint statement on consolidating efforts to combat the negative economic consequences of COVID-19.
"The joint statement on the consolidation of efforts to combat the negative economic consequences of COVID-19 will emphasize the importance of our work and the intention to further develop cooperation to combat the consequences of a new coronavirus infection. The FAS Russia has prepared a draft Joint statement, the document was agreed by the competition agencies of Brazil, China, South Africa and India," said Lesya Davydova, Head of the Department for International Economic Cooperation of the FAS Russia.
While on the subject of consequences of the pandemic, Igor Artemiev noted changes that could not but affect the economic side of life in our countries and the activities of Antimonopoly authorities:
"During the crisis, it was important for us not only to quickly undertake tasks of preventing unjustified price increases for socially important goods, suppressing cartel activity, and quickly adapting the Authority to “extreme conditions” of work, but also to prevent the impact of negative consequences on competition in the future. I would like to emphasize that the market economy of Russia has allowed us to fulfill all these tasks without resorting to administrative resources."
The Head of the FAS Russia highlighted that the experience of competition agencies during the crisis will be useful in the future:
"We have switched to remote consideration of antimonopoly cases and plan to continue this practice. Now you do not need to fly 9 hours from Vladivostok to a meeting of the Commission of the FAS Russia, you can do it distantly. Our activities become operational, and contractors do not bear organizational costs. In this regard, it is important and useful for the BRICS competition agencies to adopt a Joint statement on measures to combat the consequences of the pandemic. Our agencies quickly responded to the most pressing issues of people's real life, and we need to share this experience."
During the meeting, Igor Artemiev also thanked his colleagues for their practical cooperation in investigating cases of violation of antimonopoly laws that have a cross-border effect, and reviewing global transactions of economic concentration. Thus, there were successful examples of interaction in relation to global transactions of economic concentration (Monsanto/Bayer, Siemens/Alstom), as well as mergers of Alstom/Bombardier and IFF/DuPont, which are currently being considered by antimonopoly regulators of the BRICS countries.
In order to systematize and optimize work in this direction, the parties discussed the draft Model guidelines for applying waivers of confidentiality when approving global economic concentration transactions in the BRICS countries, developed by the FAS Russia. According to the Head of the FAS Russia, the application of Model guidelines will help BRICS competition agencies to facilitate the procedure for controlling mergers, more systematically interact on specific transactions, which will reduce the time for reviewing transactions, avoid making conflicting decisions in different jurisdictions, and guarantee the protection of confidential information, which in turn is beneficial for companies that are parties to transactions.
"Our five countries represent one half of the market for the products of transnational companies (TNC). That is why the common requirements for mergers and acquisitions developed jointly by the BRICS antimonopoly authorities strengthen the effect of our regulations, decisions and judicial practices. We have elaborated a draft Model guidelines for applying the waiver when approving global transactions of economic concentration in the BRICS countries. I propose to schedule the adoption of this document within the framework of the next meeting of the BRICS Coordinating Committee on Antimonopoly Policy, which is planed to be held in September 2020," the Head of the FAS Russia addressed his colleagues.
The initiative to adopt Model guidelines was positively received by the Heads of BRICS competition agencies. Besides, an agreement was reached to continue working together in this direction, and the Competition Commission of India proposed to form an appropriate group of experts from among the representatives of BRICS competition agencies in order to further develop the text of the document.
In the course of the deliberation, participants discussed preparations for the 8th UN Review Conference of the Set on Competition, which should include the adoption of Guiding Policies and Procedures under Section F of the UN Set on Competition.
Furthermore, the BRICS competition authorities supported the initiative of the FAS Russia to include the issue of combating cross-border cartels in the work of the Intergovernmental group of experts on competition law and policy of UNCTAD for the next 5 years and expressed their readiness to become co-sponsors of the project.
"I would like to thank the competition authorities of the BRICS countries for supporting the initiative of the FAS Russia to include the issue of combating cross-border cartels into the work of the Intergovernmental group of experts on competition law and policy of UNCTAD for the next 5 years. Our joint work in this direction will be of historical significance. Today, international provisions do not regulate international cartels, and it turns out that TNCs dictate the terms to entire countries and peoples. In fact, our agencies, which are developing the practice of detecting and suppressing cross-border cartels, are pioneers in addressing this priority issue. I hope that through our efforts international standards for regulating transnational cartels will be adopted by 2025," said Igor Artemiev.
A separate item on the agenda of the videoconference was the discussion of issues related to the intensification of interaction between regulators on the basis of the BRICS International Center for competition law and policy.
Alexey Ivanov, Director of the BRICS Antimonopoly Center, spoke about what is expected to be done in the coming years and what tasks the Center sets for itself. Representatives of the BRICS competition agencies highly appreciated the work of the Russian Center.
Deputy Head of the FAS Russia Andrey Tsyganov also shared the results of five-party cooperation within the framework of the Center's activity:
"Development of scientific expertise on a wide range of issues of competition law and policy, as well as the development of approaches to solving existing problems in the BRICS space, carried out jointly by the BRICS Antimonopoly authorities and the scientific community within the framework of the BRICS International Center for competition law and policy, will help us achieve our goals. Establishment and operation of this center is actively supported by the Government of the Russian Federation."
Gan Lin, Deputy Minister of the State Administration for Market Regulation of the People's Republic of China, spoke about the status of preparations for the Seventh BRICS Competition Conference, which will be held in September 2021 in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
Igor Artemiev emphasized that the FAS Russia is always open to dialogue, ready to share the experience of holding a conference and assist in preparing the agenda.
The meeting was also attended by Alexander Barreto de Souza, President of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense of Brazil, Ashok Kumar Gupta, Head of the Competition Commission of India, Gan Lin, Deputy Minister of the State Administration for Market Regulation of China, and Tembinkosi Bonakele, Head of the Competition Commission of South Africa.