Competition officials working together to tackle cartels

Manila, Philippines - A three-day cartel investigations workshop was conducted from 20-22 March in Manila, the Philippines. At the Workshop, 25 officials from the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) discussed the techniques and processes used to detect, investigate and take action against cartels within their jurisdictions.

Cartel conduct, such as price-fixing or market sharing, can result in consumers, businesses and governments paying higher prices, lower quality goods and services being produced, and less opportunities for investment and innovation. Effective detection and enforcement of cartels is vital in avoiding the costs to society stemming from cartels.

In providing opening remarks at the Workshop, PCC Chairman Mr Arsenio Balisacan underscored the importance of the PCC understanding the basic principles of cartel investigations and remarked that in an economy where oligopolistic market structures persist, external expectations are high for the PCC to deliver more and better competition enforcement. The effectiveness of the competition law will come down to its enforcement and the ability of the PCC to take on the anti-competitive practices.

The Workshop was delivered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provided participants with a mix of presentations and activities which highlighted key elements of a cartel investigation. Over the course of the Workshop, participants worked together to uncover a hypothetical cartel and determine whether to pursue enforcement action. The Workshop also provided an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships between the Philippines, Malaysian and Australian competition agencies.

Ms Farha Mustaffa, Assistant Director of the Legal Division at the MyCC, remarked that the Workshop has been tremendously beneficial to all participants. It has provided a useful platform for discussion about cartel detection and investigation. Participants not only learn from the ACCC but also from each other. Cartel investigation will remain a top priority for many competition authorities including the MyCC.

The workshop was organized by the ACCC, with support from the ASEAN Secretariat, as part of the Competition Law Implementation Program (CLIP) under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area Economic Cooperation Support Program. CLIP promotes collaboration between competition agencies in the region to share resources, skills and techniques.

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