12 Jul 2013 11:19

SINGAPORE, July 4 (Bernama) -- The 3rd Asean Competition Conference (ACC), a key platform for strategic discussions and networking among government authorities in Asean countries responsible for administering national competition policy and law opens in Singapore.

Some 200 delegates including senior government officials will convene at the two-day event themed “Moving Towards Regional Integration of Competition Policy and Law”, hosted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) beginning Thursday.

Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, in his opening address highlighted that “competition policy and law will become increasingly important in underpinning economic growth and integration in Asean” and that “a strong competition regime enhances efficient market conduct and promotes overall productivity and competiveness of markets in the region.” The minister also shared his views on three core principles fundamental for a successful competition regime.

First, a competition regime should have a robust and relevant body of laws and regulations aligned with international best practices. Second, enforcement and advocacy should go hand-in-hand to ensure a proactive and business-friendly approach in implementing the law.

Third, decisions of competition authorities must be subject to reasonable appeal procedures to provide parties adequate recourse.

Lim also pointed out that while it is crucial for Asean countries to put in place respective national competition regimes, “a systematic set of competition rules at the regional level is equally important to oversee increasingly complex and cross-border business activities, and provide effective protection against possible restrictive anti-competitive business practices of transnational business entities.” Lim urged Asean member states “to harmonise or at least rationalise the competition laws of each member state as far as possible”.

This will not only enhance intra-Asean trade and investment, but also improve Asean’s competitiveness in the global market.

Inconsistent competition rules among countries can increase uncertainties and impose additional transaction and compliance costs for regional businesses. In the path towards greater integration, Lim suggested to draw on the experiences of regional blocs, like that of the European Competition Network and Asean’s dialogue partners.

One way is to consider adopting a ‘network model’, incorporating agreements of mutual assistance, enforcement cooperation, information-sharing, capacity-building and networking among the competition agencies.