Representatives of the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC) and the ASEAN Secretariat gathered in Singapore today for a dialogue on key issues and challenges to enhance effective business compliance of Competition Policy and Law (CPL) in the region. The one-day workshop which was held at the Grand Park City Hall Hotel and hosted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), discussed issues related to the design and implementation of appropriate outreach and evidence-based advocacy measures vis-à-vis the business community.
Business compliance with competition rules is key to building an effective competition regime: companies should not only understand the benefits of CPL but will need to be familiar with the potential consequences of infringing competition rules. A company-wide compliance program can help avoid potentially anti-competitive business practices.
Prof. Michal Gal and Dr. Stanley Wong, two renowned international competition experts, provided guidance on how to strengthen the advocacy role of competition agencies to introduce as well as enforce CPL.
Fostering competition compliance in ASEAN is challenged not only by a lack of a “competition culture” but also by pending competition legislations in five of the ten Member States. Overcoming the limited awareness and often “rational apathy” of the private sector and decision-makers is a complex task, said Prof. Gal from the University of Haifa, Israel. Continuous two-way dialogue between business and competition agencies is therefore essential in this process, noted Dr. Wong.
Members of competition agencies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam shared their experiences on their respective outreach and advocacy programmes aimed at promoting competition compliance. Legal counsels specialized in competition law were also invited to present on their respective compliance programs, the benefits and concerns from the perspective of the private sector.
This initiative is set against the backdrop of increasing regional cooperation on CPL and ties in with ongoing deliberations of the AEGC on a strategic Action Plan beyond 2015. The imminent realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) increases the urgency to ensure a level playing field along with greater legal certainty for business to operate within the larger common market.
The workshop was convened at the sidelines of the Singapore Competition Law Conference 2014 with the theme “CCS@10: Reflecting on the Past and Looking Ahead.” It was organised within the framework of the project “Competition Policy and Law in ASEAN”, supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany.