Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims on Thursday provided a regulator's perspective on the importance of competition provisions in regional trade agreements. He was addressing trade negotiators at a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) seminar in Brisbane. In his address, Sims argued, competition provisions in trade agreements incidentally complement chapters that lower barriers to trade.
Demonstrating the importance of competition reforms to economic development, the ACCC Chairman provided an insight on Australia's experience with its National Competition Policy reforms. "National competition laws facilitate the innovation and dynamism that drive productivity growth within an economy," Sims said.
Including competition policy and law commitments in the proposed RCEP agreement would help deliver the benefits of competition to the region as a whole, he argued.
"Not only will the inclusion of competition provisions in RCEP ensure all the participating economies enjoy the benefits of competition, it will increase regional economic integration and underpin foreign investment in the region that will further fuel competition and economic growth," the ACCC Chairman said. Competition provisions in trade agreements facilitate the development of internationally consistent laws which address anti-competitive conduct.
Encouraging cooperation and capacity building within the region increases how effectively such laws are enforced, he said. "Cooperation between enforcement agencies is crucial to address anti-competitive conduct where trade increasingly flows across national boundaries," Sims said.
The ACCC Chairman also spoke about collaborating with regional counterparts to increase the capacity of consumer protection and competition regulation in the Asian region.
RCEP participating countries are important economic partners and regional neighbours for Australia. RCEP is an ASEAN-centred proposal for a regional free trade area, which will initially include the ten ASEAN member states and those countries which have existing FTAs with ASEAN - Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand.
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