UNCTAD Secretary-General highlights progress on competition laws at meeting with the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA)

14 November 2014

Mukhisa Kituyi underlined importance of regional cooperation in keynote speech to UNCTAD-SELA working group in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi highlighted the efforts made by member States of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) to adopt competition legislation during the past decade, in particular the current drive in Guatemala to pass a competition law.

Speaking during the fourth annual meeting of the UNCTAD-SELA Working Group on Trade and Competition in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on 5 November, Dr. Kituyi also praised the work of the Dominican Republic's competition agency (PROCOMPETENCIA) in implementing competition policies at the domestic level.

Dr. Kituyi stressed the importance of linking competition and trade policies in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

"Since your first meeting took place in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2009, the Working Group on Trade and Competition has had a number of achievements," Dr. Kituyi said. "One of the most evident is that the group is the only regional setting in the world that deals with the issue of the interface between trade and competition after the issue was dropped from WTO negotiations and deactivated in the WTO Working Group on Trade and Competition in 2004."

Dr. Kituyi emphasized UNCTAD's continued commitment to strengthening competition authorities' capacities worldwide. He said that while there has been a tendency to view competition policy as a local issue, to remain effective competition policy must consider the interaction with trade policy.

Dr. Kituyi said that sometimes competition policies open opportunities for FDI flows, and mergers and acquisitions. Thus, he said, these policies may represent a potential threat for national interests and create global oligopolies with harmful effects. In this case, national competition authorities play a critical role, as market power manipulation can be prevented and proper assessment of mergers and acquisitions can negate harmful effects in domestic markets.

The Secretary-General was welcomed to the meeting by José Manuel del Castillo, Minister of Trade and Commerce; and Michelle Cohen, President of PROCOMPETENCIA.

Mr. Castillo praised the work of the forum, highlighting the main objectives of the two-day meeting and what the next steps are for the Latin American and Caribbean Region agenda on trade and competition.

Luis Manuel Piantini, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the WTO and United Nations in Geneva and a former President of the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD, also participated in the opening session.