Voluntary peer reviews of competition law and policy conducted by UNCTAD fall within the framework of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices, adopted by the General Assembly in 1980. The Set seeks, among other things, to assist developing countries in adopting and enforcing effective competition law and policy suited to their development needs and economic situation.
Competition Law and Policy in Uruguay
Act No. 18.159 on the promotion and defence of competition was adopted in 2007. The preamble of the bill stated that the law’s main objective was to introduce “a number of mechanisms to control anticompetitive conduct that harms the population and to produce and develop the necessary guidance to orient markets towards greater competition”. The priority of the new law was to investigate anticompetitive conduct rather than analyse economic concentrations.
The Commission on the Promotion and Defence of Competition is a decentralized body of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance responsible for the implementation of Act No. 18.159. It is obvious that the Commission has made considerable efforts despite its scarce resources and the limitations of Uruguayan legislation. Still, it is difficult for a small new agency, with few personnel and little autonomy, to achieve the objectives of Act.
Notwithstanding the noteworthy efforts being made, improvements could be made in a number of areas, at both the regulatory and the institutional level, in order to create a more robust system for the protection and promotion of competition that will ultimately enhance consumer welfare and the competitiveness of the national economy.
From a legal perspective, Act No. 18.159 and its regulations reflect the generally accepted principles of competition law and are a substantial improvement over previous legislation. However, a number of improvements would be worth analysing with a view to enhancing legal certainty, clarity and predictability and enforcing the law more effectively.
At the institutional level, the Commission could be strengthened by endowing it with sufficient resources and increasing its autonomy. The Commission itself could make adjustments to its internal organization that would also lead to the more effective fulfilment of its mandate.
This Review provides recommendations aimed at improving various aspects of the promotion and protection of competition in the market.