National governments, international agencies, donors and the global policy community are increasingly realising the need for effective implementation of competition policy and law (especially in the developing and least developed countries) in order to derive the benefits of trade and economic liberalisation, and evolve well-functioning markets. In addition to stimulating efficient and equitable growth patterns in an economy, a healthy competition regime helps preserve consumers’ interests.
Given that the history of competition administration in most developed countries has been longer as compared to that in most developing and least developed countries (where competition regimes are at an extremely juvenile stage in many countries), it is imperative that the more experienced ‘Northern’ countries commit to cooperate with the less experienced ‘Southern’ countries to provide technical assistance and capacity building support for evolution and implementation of competition legislations therein.
For the advanced countries, the outcomes of such cooperation would be helpful to raise the confidence of their investors to invest in these developing (and least developed) countries; while for the developing (and least developed) countries such cooperation would help them have access to higher levels of understanding and better skills to implement their national competition regimes. It would therefore be a ‘win-win’ situation for both the cooperating parties.
It is however important that the framework for such cooperation and the road map for its implementation is carefully constructed. For this to happen, it is critical that the norms of such international cooperation are developed under the auspices of an international organisation. CUTS proposes this function be attributed to the International Competition Network (ICN), and that it features as a permanent element in all ICN annual conferences.
In order to ensure continuity in this process of cooperation on competition and to facilitate its formal endorsement/ adoption by the international community, it would be useful to announce the initiation of such a process on a date that is recognised as World Competition Day.
Given ICN’s engagement with this process, this date could be earmarked for kick-starting the annual ICN conference, every year.
ICN is the biggest gathering of competition practitioners from across the globe. World Competition Day, each year would therefore mark an occasion when elements of global competition governance are discussed and determined.
It would be befitting for such a landmark decision (pertaining to international cooperation on competition) is taken in Switzerland – the venue of the forthcoming ICN Conference (2009).
Having a day assigned as World Competition Day would provide an occasion to celebrate and propagate the needs and benefits of a functional competition regime, worldwide, and build up an impetus for competition reforms globally.
World Competition Day would be an occasion for civil society organisations and international development partners to announce their solidarity to continue raising public understanding and support for implementation of competition regimes, globally. It would also be an occasion for national governments to pledge their commitment for integrating competition policy into their national development plans.