International days are observed in various areas of governance to draw the attention of masses towards critical and vital issues. Such observances in the developing world are always very helpful to accelerate the agenda.
Campaigns to ensure consumers across the world realize the benefits from an effectively implemented competition regime, and play their role in making competition regimes work worldwide. It is critical that focus on competition policy and law issues at an international level be strengthened. This can be achieved through the adoption of a World Competition Day. Therefore, CUTS International (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) proposes that the 5th of December be declared a World Competition Day (WCD).
On December 5, 1980 the United Nations Conference approved the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices thus marking a milestone in the history of Competition Law and Policy.
Considering the disruptive business models based on continuous innovation in today’s digital economy, the theme selected for this year is ‘Digital Economy, Innovation and Competition’.
Digital Economy, Innovation and Competition
The digital economy is a major driver of economic growth in the 21st century and is fuelled by the rapid emergence of digital innovations. These innovations lie at the heart of the digital economy.
The digital markets powered digital economy is characterized by big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), platform-based business modes, multi-sided markets, network effects and tipping, user feedback loops deep pockets and common institutional investments. They present novel and complex competition concerns with both precompetitive and anticompetitive outcomes.
Digital markets are generally perceived to benefit consumers through more choices, lowered prices, increased transparency and improved product quality. On the other hand, they also have the potential to disrupt established practices, pose entry barriers, exhibit market concentration, and undermine competition in the economy.
Therefore, on this year’s WCD, it becomes pertinent to deliberate upon the contemporary competition law challenges faced by the innovation led digital economy such as identifying the role of competition policy/law and authorities in shaping the digital economy; ascertaining the suitability of the traditional competition law tools to deal with the digital economy and innovative disruption and most importantly advocating for optimal regulation, which adequately protects innovation, and simultaneously enhances competition and consumer welfare.
Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) is the top Government organization mandated to protect consumers’ interests and ensure fair competition among businesses in Sri Lanka. The Authority was established in the 2003 under the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No.09. The Act has laid down necessary legal provisions empowering the CAA to take necessary actions to safeguard interests of consumers while maintaining effective competition among suppliers of goods and services.
With regard to anti-competitive practice, the CAA Act deems to prevail, where a person in the course of business, pursues a course of conduct which of itself or when taken together with a course of conduct pursued by persons associated with him, has or is intended to have or is likely to have the effect of restricting, distorting or preventing competition in connection with the production, supply or acquisition of goods in Sri Lanka or the supply or securing of services in Sri Lanka.
It is a recognized fact that innovation and competition are two of the most important pillars which support and foster the growth of an economy. In order to spur industrial development and to bring in socio-economic changes, it is important to have an environment which supports competition amongst firms as well as promotes the generation of intellectual property. The two most important policy measures taken by the governments to ensure innovation and growth are intellectual property and competition policy. However, when these two policy measures are implemented on the ground, they may not necessarily work in tandem with each other.
Through this platform, we intend to spread awareness among the citizens on benefits of a competitive market structure as well as the harmful effects of anti- competitive practices.