30 October 2018
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (“CCCS”) hosted the 22nd ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (“AEGC”) Meeting from 8 to 10 October 2018. On 10 October 2018, CCCS issued a press release titled “ASEAN establishes Competition Enforcers’ Network, Regional Cooperation Framework and Virtual Research Centre” which highlighted the following key initiatives by AEGC:
- ASEAN Competition Enforcers’ Network (“ACEN”): ACEN aims to facilitate cooperation on competition cases in the region, to encourage information sharing between ASEAN competition authorities and to serve as a platform to handle cross-border cases. In this regard, ACEN will look into facilitating cooperation on mergers and acquisitions with a cross-border dimension.
- Virtual ASEAN Competition Research Centre (“Virtual Centre”): The Virtual Centre aims to catalyse research on competition issues in ASEAN and East Asia. Researchers and competition authorities examining competition issues in the region may refer to the Virtual Centre’s repository of research articles. The Virtual Centre also includes profiles of researchers and academics with an interest on competition policy and law in the region. There is also a section aimed at promoting research collaboration on competition in ASEAN. The Virtual Centre can be accessed at https://asean-competition.org/research/.
- ASEAN Regional Cooperation Framework (“RCF”): The RCF is a set of guidelines which sets out the general objectives, principles, and possible areas of cooperation among ASEAN Member States that may be undertaken on a bilateral, multilateral, sub-regional or regional approach, and on a voluntary basis, in relation to the development, application and enforcement of competition laws.
Daren Shiau, Partner and Co-Head of the Allen & Gledhill Competition & Antitrust Practice and a commissioned trainer of the AEGC, observes that: “These initiatives herald the rapid convergence of antitrust enforcement frameworks across South-east Asia, as is observable from the agencies’ cooperation across recent investigations and mergers”.
By way of background, in August 2007, the ASEAN Economic Ministers endorsed the establishment of the AEGC as a regional forum to discuss and cooperate on competition policy and law. CCCS took over chairmanship of the AEGC during the 21st AEGC Meeting which was held from 5 to 8 March 2018 in Singapore. As the current chair of the AEGC, CCCS led discussions on the implementation of various projects and initiatives under the ASEAN Competition Action Plan, and continued engagements with various dialogue partners which would assist ASEAN in terms of capacity building and technical assistance in the area of competition policy and law. CCCS will hand over the chairmanship of the AEGC to Malaysia in 2019.
Other initiatives launched under CCCS’ chairmanship
In addition to the above developments, set out in brief below are the other initiatives which CCCS has led in its capacity as the current chair of the AEGC:
- Competition Compliance Toolkit for Business in ASEAN (“Toolkit”): The Toolkit aims to provide businesses with information on the basic principles of competition law, benefits of competition compliance, as well as guidelines on implementing an internal Competition Compliance Programme in the ASEAN context. Competition authorities in ASEAN may also refer to the Toolkit for guidance on how to encourage greater business compliance with competition law. An International Competition Network Workshop Promotion and Implementation Workshop for ASEAN Competition Officials was held on 12 October 2018, on the sidelines of the 22nd AEGC Meeting, to leverage on the Toolkit as a basis to explore how ASEAN competition authorities can enhance their efforts to encourage greater competition compliance by the business community in their respective jurisdictions.
- Studies to examine state of competition in ASEAN: Two studies were initiated to (1) review the impact of policies and regulations on competition in the logistics sector in ASEAN, and (2) assess the impact of state-owned enterprises on competition in the logistics sector in ASEAN.
- Capacity building efforts from new and existing development partners: The AEGC has forged engagements with new development partners, which include the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, Canada, the European Commission and the United Kingdom, to assist ASEAN in its capacity building efforts. This is in addition to existing development partners such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Japan. Development partners provide various forms of technical and funding assistance to AEGC projects.
The following reference materials are available on the CCCS website www.cccs.gov.sg: