COMPETITION POLICY CHAPTER IN THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) AGREEMENT Alice Pham CUTS International Hanoi Resource Centre COMPETITION PROVISIONS IN FTAS & RTAS The statistics The rationale The spectrum of commitments Important issues : S&D treatment to address the development needs of developing countries Policy space for nurturing national champions and other industrial policy considerations THE COMPETITION POLICY CHAPTER OF THE TPP “Competition policy” is considered a “new-generation” FTA issue, included in most FTA concluded by the US recently. No information has been leaked so far about this chapter. Relevant parties speculate that this chapter would base on the Korea-US FTA (KORUS) and the Singapore-US FTA as ‘benchmarks/points of departure’ THE CHAPTER MOST LIKELY WILL DEAL WITH Members to maintain & adopt competition laws that proscribe anticompetitive practices Members to maintain authorities responsible for the enforcement of its national competition laws (‘competition authorities’) Members to adhere to due process in antitrust enforcement State Enterprises Designated monopolies Transparency Cross-border consumer protection? Other issues such as international mergers, cartels, technical assistance, etc HOW DOES IT MATTER TO US, THE CONSUMERS? First, would the Chapter include provisions on “cross-border consumer protection” or will this important content be omitted? KORUS – ARTICLE 16.6 1. The Parties recognize the importance of cooperation on matters related to their consumer protection laws in order to enhance the welfare of their consumers. Accordingly, the Parties shall cooperate, in appropriate cases of mutual concern, in the enforcement of their consumer protection laws. 2. The Parties shall endeavor to strengthen cooperation between the United States Federal Trade Commission, on the one hand, and the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Korea and the Korea Fair Trade Commission, on the other, in areas of mutual concern relating to their respective consumer protection laws, including by: (a) consulting on consumer protection policies and exchanging information related to the enactment and administration of their consumer protection laws; (b) strengthening cooperation in detecting and preventing fraudulent and deceptive commercial practices against consumers; (c) consulting on ways to reduce consumer protection law violations that have significant cross-border dimensions; and (d) supporting implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Commercial Practices Across Borders (2003). 3. Nothing in this Article shall limit the discretion of an agency referred to in paragraph 2 to decide whether to take action in response to a request by a counterpart agency of the other Party, nor shall it preclude any of those agencies from taking action with respect to any particular matter. 4. Each Party shall endeavor to identify, in areas of mutual concern and consistent with its own important interests, obstacles to effective cooperation with the other Party in the enforcement of its consumer protection laws, and shall consider modifying its domestic legal framework to reduce such obstacles.” OTHER ISSUES OF INTERESTS Harmonisation of consumer protection laws? Consumers’ legal standing and protection of consumer interests in antitrust enforcement The narrow treatment of “consumer welfare” solely from the perspective of “competitive markets” CONCLUSIONS Lots of relevant issues at stake More transparency is required to ensure the development value and fairness of this trade agreement THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION!