Until a Vaccine is found, work on anticompetitive
practices need to be geared up: UNCTAD
Geneva, Switzerland, July 10, 2012
In his remarks
on the release of the CUTS report on the status of consumer
protection and competition in the MENA countries at Geneva on 10th
July, Hassan Qaqaya, head of the UNCTAD Competition Law and
Consumer Policy Branch said that the study is a wonderful
initiative and the work undertaken by CUTS is extremely useful.
urged CUTS to continue the impressive work, because Cartels and
other form of anti-competitive practices are here to stay and that
there is no vaccine developed so far to tackle such practices.
For nearly three
decades, CUTS has been advocating for competitive markets in
developing countries by empowering national stakeholders to demand
appropriate reforms in that direction.
As a consumer organisation, CUTS interest on competition issues
stems from the understanding that competition reforms is an
imminent element for promoting consumer welfare through lower
prices and better availability of good quality goods and services.
CUTS has worked on competition policy and law projects in a number
of regions, viz. eastern, southern and western Africa; south and
southeast Asia. One region that CUTS has not been able to cover
yet is Middle East and Northern Africa region (commonly referred
to as the MENA region). Given this, CUTS undertook a scoping
mission in select MENA countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon,
Morocco, Syria and Tunisia) with support of the Arab Network for
Environment and Development (RAED), Egypt.
The experience and lessons gained during the mission were captured
in form of a Report, ‘Understanding the State of Domestic
Competition and Consumer Policies in Select MENA Countries’ which
was released on the side-lines of the UNCTAG IGE Meeting – 12th
session by Mr. Ashok Chawla, Chairman, Competition Commission of
India; Mr. Philippe Brusick, Former Head of UNCTAD’s Competition
and Consumer Policies Branch, Ms. Mona Yassine, Former
Chairperson, Egyptian Competition Commission and Mr. Hassan Qaqaya,
Head, Competition and Consumer Policies Branch, UNCTAD.
In his introductory remarks, CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep S
Mehta provided a brief overview of the mission and mentioned that
the key purpose of the mission was to understand the prevailing
state of the competition policy & law (CPL) and consumer
protection regimes in select MENA countries & highlight key issues
Mehta went on to emphasise that the CUTS MENA scoping mission
report sheds new and valuable light on a vital area of national
economic policy in the MENA region that has henceforth received
far too little attention. An interesting point shared with the
audience in terms of policy related distortions, was the existence
of an Exclusive Agency Act in Lebanon, which permits engagement of
one sole agency for public procurement, completely thwarting
Ms. Mona Yassine, in her remarks, emphasised on the importance of
civil society organisations in promoting economic reforms. There
is an urgent need for the civil society to play a greater role on
socio-economic policy matters than before. This was a realisation
of having started an NGO focussed on competition issues in Egypt
and she acknowledged that there is a great deal one can learn from
experience of CUTS.
Mr. Ashok Chawla acknowledged the credible research undertaken by
CUTS in the area of economic policy issues. “CUTS is a rare
organisation which advocates on issues based upon their research
work”, said Chawla. “Their academic work is very good”.
Towards the end, Mr. Philippe Brusick acknowledged his long term
association with CUTS and emphasised on the importance of
involvement of CSOs in furthering competition reforms in
more information, please contact:
Udai S. Mehta, Assistant Director, CUTS
Ph: + 91.9829285926