CLIP helping ASEAN members to start-up national competition enforcers

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Siem Reap, 19 October 2017 - When businesses compete, customers can choose the suppliers with the best products and the best prices. This puts pressure on producers to supply what consumers want efficiently and at a low cost. It also encourages innovation.

Competition law is an important part of the policy mix required to promote competition in markets. Recognising the potential for competition law to foster productive, dynamic markets in ASEAN, all member countries have undertaken to introduce competition law.

Most have made the necessary enactments and are now working to establish and empower effective agencies to enforce these laws. Support for these important developments is being offered under the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement Competition Law Implementation Program (CLIP).

Under CLIP, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and New Zealand Commerce Commission have been working intensively with ASEAN colleagues since 2014. For example, CLIP has facilitated numerous exchanges of competition officials between Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN. In 2017 alone, CLIP has sent Australian competition law experts to work alongside ASEAN colleagues on six occasions; and the ACCC has likewise hosted six secondees for almost three months from July - September. New Zealand has also hosted competition officials from Cambodia and Malaysia this year and is making plans for hosting further officials in 2018.

ACCC Chief Operating Officer Rayne de Gruchy is one of many ACCC officials to have engaged with ASEAN competition colleagues since CLIP commenced. Ms de Gruchy commented "CLIP activities, such as staff exchanges, are proving an effective way to share know-how among agencies, as well as developing mutual understanding and relationships that can help agencies become operational more quickly".

The ACCC has cooperated with colleagues at the Competition Division of Cambodias Ministry of Commerce this week to host and lead an Agency Design Workshop for an audience of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam experts. His Excellency Kim Meas Sokseiha, Deputy Director-General of CAMCONTROL was in attendance and remarked: "Gathering in Siem Reap this week with competition colleagues from Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Australia has been valuable and timely. Not only has it developed our thinking on considerations for establishing a national competition agency, the workshop will help inform the anticipated legislative process in Cambodia and has strengthened relationships among competition officials in our region".

As well as experts from Australia, Philippine Competition Commission Commissioner, Attorney Johannes Bernabe was part of the team presenting sessions on topics including governance, decision making and information handling among others.

Commissioner Bernabe observed "I could see how incredibly useful CLIPs Agency Design workshop is for countries in the process of legislating their competition law or in the midst of organising their competition agencies. The insights shared by the resource experts and the issues discussed by the different competition officials are very relevant even for a competition commission already in the thick of implementation like the Philippines. I found myself wanting to share as much as I could, given all the recent experience the PCC has gone through, so that ASEAN colleagues could learn from our journey too. The highly interactive approach as well as the surprisingly fun group case studies made the participants think pro-actively and much more engaged throughout".

20 ASEAN competition officials attended this three-day Agency Design Workshop. The workshop was centered around peer-to-peer learning through group discussion and problem solving.

CLIP is supported under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP).

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