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Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy

Action taken by the Trade and Development Board 2023
Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy
Agreed Conclusions
Closing plenary
7 Jul 2023

 

The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy,

Recalling the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices,

Recalling the resolution adopted by the Eighth United Nations Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (Geneva, 2020),[1]

Recalling the decision of the fifteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Bridgetown, 2021) in paragraphs 56, 62 and 127 (z) that “in the process of transformation, it is fundamental for fair, sound and robust competition and consumer protection policies and enforcement to maintain a robust, level playing field and enhance transparency for all participants, so that market access is not under anticompetitive practices. Ensuring effective competition, including through support in developing and implementing competition policies and through cooperation among competition authorities, paired with robust consumer protection in the market, will help foster economic efficiency, resulting in safer and better products at lower prices for consumers”, that “multilateral dialogue and cooperation are crucial in areas such as the governance of new and emerging technologies, including those related to data management, competition and consumer protection. Special attention should also be paid to the challenges of electronic commerce and the digital economy through an integrated approach to many strategic areas. Increased international cooperation is required, including in digital platforms’ governance, to promote data flow with trust, safety and confidence in their use, in accordance with national regulations and relevant international commitments” and that UNCTAD should “continue to assist developing countries to formulate and implement competition and consumer protection policies and laws, facilitate cooperation among competition and consumer protection agencies, conduct peer reviews and foster the exchange of knowledge and best practices, including through multilateral forums, such as the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy, and by contributing to the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conferences to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices and of the revised United Nations guidelines for consumer protection”,[2]

Reaffirming the fundamental role that competition law and policy plays in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by promoting competitive, open and contestable markets and ensuring wider choice, better quality and lower prices of goods and services for consumers,

Welcoming the important interventions taken by competition authorities against the cost-of-living crisis consequences through coordinated international and regional actions to mitigate the negative impact on domestic markets, while keeping them open and fair,

Underlining that competition law and policy is a key policy tool, to “build back better” in an inclusive and sustainable manner, including by maintaining open, competitive and accessible markets and enhancing trade and investment, resource mobilization and the harnessing of knowledge and by reducing poverty,

Recognizing the need to strengthen the work of UNCTAD in competition law and policy so as to enhance its development role and benefits for consumers, workers and businesses,

Recognizing that competition law issues arising in monopsony markets need commensurate enforcement attention, since abuse of monopsony power can be as damaging as any other anticompetitive conduct,

Recognizing the need to review the interaction between competition and industrial policies, reflecting recent challenges faced worldwide, including digitalization, sustainable development and the global economic downturn,

Recognizing that further discussions are required on the intersection of competition law and policy with sustainability and on their role in encouraging business innovation and investment in sustainability,

Noting with satisfaction the important written and oral contributions from member States and their competition authorities and other participants, which enriched the debate during its twenty-first session,

Taking note with appreciation of the documentation prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat for its twenty-first session,

  1. Welcomes the efforts of member States in implementing the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices; and reaffirms the interest of competition authorities in exchanging experiences, best practices and challenges regarding competition law and policy;
  2. Encourages the continuation of legislative, policy-related and regulatory actions and initiatives by Governments and competition authorities in response to the cost-of-living crisis, as well as coordination and information-sharing at the international and regional levels;
  3. Expresses its appreciation to the Government of Paraguay for volunteering for a peer review of competition law and policy and for sharing its experiences and challenges with other competition authorities during the twenty-first session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy and to all Governments and regional groups participating in the review; and recognizes the progress achieved to date in the elaboration and enforcement of the competition law of Paraguay;
  4. Encourages competition authorities to address concerns raised by the abuse of monopsony power through additional enforcement;
  5. Encourages the improvement of cooperation between competition authorities and ministries of industry and economy and other authorities to enhance their capacity to respond to the recent fast-changing economy and new policy demands;
  6. Encourages competition authorities to pursue discussions on the intersection of competition law and policy with sustainability and how they can enable markets to work better for sustainable development;
  7. Underlines the benefits of enhancing and strengthening enforcement capacities and promoting a competition culture in developing countries through capacity-building and advocacy activities targeting all relevant stakeholders; and requests the UNCTAD secretariat to disseminate the summary of its discussions on these topics to all interested member States, including through technical assistance activities and peer reviews;
  8. Underlines the importance of international cooperation as recognized in section F of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices, including informal collaboration among competition authorities; and calls upon UNCTAD to promote and support cooperation between Governments and competition authorities, as directed by the Bridgetown Covenant (paragraphs 56, 62 and
    127 (z)) and the resolution adopted by the Eighth United Nations Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (paragraphs 3 and 22), as well as in the document titled “Guiding Policies and Procedures under Section F of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices”;
  9. Requests the UNCTAD secretariat to continue the dissemination of the document titled “Guiding Policies and Procedures under Section F of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices” and to encourage its use by member States;
  10. Emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation in the enforcement of competition law and policy; and invites competition authorities to strengthen their regional and bilateral cooperation;
  11. Welcomes the information exchanges and discussions on best practices to promote cooperation between competition authorities in dealing with cross-border cartel cases and common issues in the fight against bid rigging; and decides to renew the mandate of the informal working group on cross-border cartels, open to member States on a voluntary basis, without any financial implications for the regular budget of the United Nations, to highlight best practices, facilitate information exchanges, consultations and international cooperation, discuss tools and procedures and undertake other projects as agreed in the future, and to report to the twenty-second session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy;
  12. Decides that UNCTAD should, considering past experiences, continue to undertake peer reviews of competition law and policy following requests from member States and in accordance with available resources;
  13. Invites all member States and competition authorities to assist UNCTAD on a voluntary basis by providing experts or other resources for future and follow-up activities in connection with voluntary peer reviews and their recommendations;
  14. Requests the UNCTAD secretariat to prepare reports and studies as background documentation for the twenty-second session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy on enforcing competition law in digital markets and ecosystems: policy challenges and options;
  15. Requests the UNCTAD secretariat to facilitate consultations and the exchange of views among member States on the topics of competition policy and poverty reduction; and recent developments in merger control standards;
  16. Requests the UNCTAD secretariat to prepare, for the consideration of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy at its twenty-second session, an updated review of capacity-building in and technical assistance on competition law and policy, including an impact assessment, based on information received from member States;
  17. Notes with appreciation the voluntary financial and other contributions received from member States; invites member States to continue to assist UNCTAD on a voluntary basis in its capacity-building and technical assistance activities by providing experts, training facilities and financial or other resources; and requests the UNCTAD secretariat to pursue capacity-building and technical assistance activities, including training, and, where possible, to focus such activities on maximizing their impact in all interested countries.

  [1] TD/RBP/CONF.9/9.

  [2] TD/541/Add.2.