Competition and consumer protection programme expands to cover Middle East and North Africa

07 May 2014

An UNCTAD programme to strengthen competition and consumer protection policies has been launched in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Petko Draganov inaugurated COMPAL GLOBAL for MENA countries during the 13th Annual International Competition Network (ICN) Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on 23 April 2014.

UNCTAD has long-standing experience in providing technical assistance and capacity building on competition and consumer protection policies and laws. Its most successful programme is COMPAL (Competencia y Protección del Consumidor en America Latina - Competition and Consumer Protection for Latin America), which has been running for almost 10 years thanks to the financial support of the Swiss Government.

COMPAL began with just five member countries and now counts eight others, who joined through the regional component of the programme, which aims to enhance regional cooperation.

The programme's strategy was "exported" to Africa, namely to the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU), and UNCTAD has recently adopted it as its general strategy for intervention in Competition and Consumer Protection worldwide.

The COMPAL MENA programme will aim to:

  • Enhance MENA countries' effective capacities to adopt and implement regional competition and consumer protection programmes. This will be accomplished through the introduction of national policies and legal frameworks and institution building. The latter includes establishing agencies for competition and consumer protection, training enforcers and engaging regional cooperation initiatives.

  • Help companies and business associations comply with competition and consumer protection laws and regulations. This will be done through advocacy for voluntary compliance, for integrating the informal sector into the formal economy and for eliminating unfair trade practices. There will also be workshops, and guidelines will be published on applying laws and regulations and guidelines on leniency programmes.

  • Assist MENA countries in establishing an effective dialogue among policymakers for coherence between competition, consumer and other public policies. This will include assistance in adopting competition neutrality frameworks and in implementing Regulatory Impact Analyses, to avoid unnecessary burdens to competition. Mr. Draganov's presence at the ICN conference marked the first time a high-level UNCTAD representative attended this meeting of the worldwide network of competition authorities.

ICN was established 13 years ago to create more effective enforcement of competition law in the context of economic globalization. The network began with a membership of 15 competition agencies and has expanded to include 130 such agencies. With this growth in membership, ICN intends to serve as a forum for exchanging information and experiences on best practices, tools and methods to combat competition-restricting agreements between undertakings.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Petko Draganov inaugurated COMPAL GLOBAL for MENA countries during the 13th Annual International Competition Network (ICN) Conference, Marrakech, Morocco (23 April 2014)