Meeting of the BRICS Coordination Committee on Antimonopoly Policy

Meeting of the BRICS Coordination Committee on Antimonopoly Policy
Photo: HSE 08.07.2024 365

The first BRICS Coordination Committee on Antimonopoly Policy meeting during the Russian BRICS Chairship in 2024 was held on July 2 in Geneva. The meeting is a key event of the BRICS countries in the field of antimonopoly regulation.  Director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre Alexey Ivanov spoke at the event, during which current issues on the cooperation agenda of the BRICS competition authorities, interim results of interaction were discussed and priority areas for further joint work were identified.

The event was held under the auspices of Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in 2024. The Coordination Committee meeting was attended for the first time by the heads of competition authorities of 9 countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Iran, UAE and Ethiopia. Andrey Tsyganov, Deputy Head of the FAS of Russia, noted that cooperation between the BRICS countries is actively developing in all directions, demonstrating notable practical results.

"It is very important that BRICS is attracting more and more supporters who share the attitudes that underpin the activities of the association. These are sovereign equality, respect for the choice of one's own development path, mutual consideration of interests, openness, consensus, aspiration to form a multipolar world order and a fair model of the global financial and trade system,"

Tsyganov noted.

During the event, the participants discussed the prospects for developing cooperation with the International BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre (BRICS Centre). The participants unanimously praised the role of the Center, which provides methodological support to the activities of the BRICS competition authorities, and recognized the need to build up its capacity.

Alexey Ivanov, Director of the BRICS Centre, spoke about the main activities of the Centre, which brings together academia, analytical and expert communities of the BRICS countries. The Centre's experts focus on the study of global food value chains, digital ecosystems and the generics market of biological medicines. Cooperation in these areas is extremely important in the context of economic globalization, trade liberalization and capital flows around the world.

"So, what we're advocating for is essentially bringing competition to the market of ideas. Our work since the Centre's inception has been to promote demand for research focused on BRICS and developing countries. We are trying to fulfill the objectives defined in Section F ('International Measures') of the UN Competition Set — the only global agreement on competition to date," 

Mr. Ivanov emphasized.

From left to right: Irina Atrokhova (Deputy Director, BRICS Centre), Alexey Ivanov, Ravneet Kaur.

During the meeting, the antimonopoly authorities of the BRICS countries agreed on a project to launch the BRICS Global Action Platform on Fair Market Competition developed by the BRICS Centre and presented by the FAS of Russia as an initiative of the Russian Chairmanship.

The proposed BRICS Global Action Platform on Fair Market Competition envisages proactive coordination of BRICS antitrust policies through mechanisms for coordinating the review of economic concentration transactions, joint investigations and sectoral studies within the BRICS. Such a new format of cooperation will make it possible to identify problem areas of monopolization and cartelization and, in general, those areas in the global economy that require special antitrust attention.

It was decided to start working on the proposal in order to present and approve specific mechanisms for the implementation of the platform at the next 9th International Conference on Competition under the auspices of BRICS in 2025 in Cape Town. The platform will allow BRICS antitrust regulators to more actively influence the global architecture of economic relations.

"The agreement on the draft platform is a big step towards the full-fledged institutionalization of cooperation in the antimonopoly track of the BRICS countries and a notable success of the Russian Chairmanship," 

Alexey Ivanov is convinced.

The participants of the meeting also presented reports on significant results of the BRICS competition authorities' activities. For example, South Africa's competition authority conducted a large-scale Online Intermediation Platforms Market Inquiry and recently released a provisional report on the results of the Fresh Produce Market Inquiry. The regulator's recommendations in such market studies are binding on companies, emphasized Doris Tshepe, Commissioner of the South African Competition Commission.

Alexandre Barreto, General Superintendent of Brazilian regulator CADE, spoke about the development of the E-Notifica system to automate transactions within the framework of simplified paperwork and shared statistics that CADE's activities in 2023 will benefit the state in the amount of R$16.3 billion (approx. $5 billion).

In December 2023, the UAE's new federal competition regulation law came into effect, narrowing the exemptions under the old law as much as possible, introducing a new criterion for notifications of economic concentration transactions and expanding the list of anti-competitive practices to include abuse of the use of economic dependency position, predatory pricing and others, said Anusha Almarzouki, Head of the Competition Unit at the UAE Ministry of Economy

India also continues to improve its antitrust legislation - changes are being made to the mergers and acquisitions control regime, and the Leniency Plus regime has been introduced to detect cartels. In addition, the Digital Competition Bill which has been submitted for public comment is in the final stages of finalization, said Ravneet Kaur, Chairperson of the Competition Commission of India

Xu Xinjian, Chief Inspector of the Anti-monopoly Department of the General State Administration for Market Regulation of the People's Republic of China, noted that China continues to make changes to its legislation in terms of controlling the activities of digital platforms. Mahmoud Momtaz, Chairman of the Egyptian Competition Authority, said the country has a new ex ante merger control regime effective June 1, 2024. The new rules also set out criteria for assessing the impact of economic concentration on market competition, taking into account factors such as market structure, level of competition, availability of alternatives for suppliers and consumers, as well as the potential impact on consumers, investment, innovation and freedom of competition.

The participants then summarized the interim results of the BRICS Working Group for the Research of Competition Issues in Socially Important Markets and the BRICS Working Group on Cross-border Cartels, presented their results, and outlined further directions for their activities in the near future.

Within the framework of the BRICS Working Group for the Research of Competition Issues in Food Markets, representatives of competition authorities discussed the status of the BRICS+ Global Agricultural Market Study. The study aims to prepare recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of antitrust regulation of food markets in the BRICS countries. The interim results of the study will be presented at the Working Group meeting scheduled to be held in September 2024 and discussed at the 9th BRICS Competition Conference in 2025. 

The BRICS Working Group for the Research of Competition Issues  in Pharmaceutical Markets was determined to further investigate competition issues in the market of biosimilars and generics.

Discussing the results of the BRICS Working Group  for the Research of Competition Issues in Digital Markets, Mr. Allexandre Barreto noted the importance of practical application of the findings of the Second Report of the BRICS Competition Authorities on Competition Regulation in the Digital Economy. The participants also generally approved the content of the draft Model Principles and Standards for Digital Market Participants of the BRICS Member States.

The participants also outlined further activities of the BRICS Working Group on Cartels. Mr. Hardin Ratshisusu, Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Commission of South Africa, noted that the best practices on cartel control developed in BRICS could be made global through the UNCTAD platform.

"I think the BRICS association should lead this effort. It is a broad working group, not necessarily dealing with all specific cases of violations, but it is a strategic collaboration as we see it." 

At the initiative of Mahmoud Momtaz, it was also decided to pay special attention to improving digital methods of detecting bid rigging, further exchange of experience in this area, and preparation of recommendations.

As the meeting proceeded, Mr. Seyed Nourani, Chairman of the Competition Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, emphasized the importance of developing cooperation between the expert and scientific communities of the BRICS countries. In addition, the Iranian side is in favor of expanding cooperation with the BRICS legal and judicial communities, as well as creating a virtual library for the BRICS competition authorities. Ethiopia's Minister of Trade and Regional Integration Gebremeskel Chala Motalo noted that due to the fact that the Ministry's competition unit is newly established, it will be crucial for the Ethiopian side to share experiences and learn best practices with BRICS partners.

An important event of the meeting was the adoption of the Joint Statement of the BRICS Heads of Competition Authorities on the need to consolidate efforts to maintain healthy competition in socially important markets. This is the first antimonopoly document adopted by the BRICS countries in the newly enlarged composition. 

At the end of the BRICS Coordination Committee meeting, the representatives of the antitrust authorities identified further areas of joint work, as well as the preparation of joint events: the 9th BRICS International Competition Conference and the meetings of the BRICS Working Groups for the Research of Competition Issues in Socially Important Markets.

At the end of the meeting, the participants welcomed the holding of the 9th BRICS Competition Conference in South Africa in 2025 and expressed their willingness to hand over the BRICS Chairmanship in 2025 to Brazil.

BRICS Coordination committee 

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