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Competition Commission working with the business enterprises and associations towards a more efficient market and sustainable growth

​The role of business enterprises and their associations as important partners in creating favourable market conditions that are conducive for the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) growth, consumer welfare and sustainable economy in Brunei Darussalam, was the focus of a dialogue titled "Competition Order: Towards a More Efficient Market and Sustainable Growth".

The Dialogue was organized by the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs in the Department of Economic Planning and Development, Ministry of Finance and Economy as the Executive Secretariat of the Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam, in collaboration with the Darussalam Enterprise. More than 30 representatives attended the session, from across business associations including the Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei, Brunei Malay Chamber of Commerce, Brunei Darussalam International Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as banking, hotel, travel and shipping sector.

The Dialogue discussed the key prohibitions of the Competition Order and provided insights and frank exchanged on how anti-­competitive practices in business can create threats to growth and the benefits of compliance to promote business growth opportunities.

Leading the discussion on the application of the Competition Order to business associations, Dr Hassan Qaqaya, Competition advisor shared on some of the business practices which may potentially raise concerns with the introduction of the Competition Order, such as sharing of commercially sensitive information, particularly, price information exchange in the associations' meetings or other information which may facilitate collusion among competitors such as bid rigging, market sharing, limiting supply.

He further clarified that Competition Order does not protect competitors but protect competitive process; it provides a set of 'rule of the game' to ensure business players are in a level playing field to compete in a healthy business environment and not a victim of anti-­competitive practices.

The Dialogue is a priority for the Competition Commission before Order enter into force. Business will be given notice in a public announcement with regards to the beginning of the 'grace period' before the Order is enforced. The Order prohibits business from entering into agreements which may restrain or restrict a fair competitive process in the market, which may harm consumers. The context of consumers include public entities and businesses themselves, highlighted the Acting Director of Competition and Consumer Affairs in the opening of the session.

The 3 key prohibitions of the Order are (i) Anti-­competitive agreements; (ii) Abuse of Dominant position; and (iii) Anti-competitive mergers. The first phase of enforcement will focus on conducts under the anti-­competitive agreements, which can be summarized into 4 Key Don'ts. The 4 Key Don'ts are (i) price fixing; (ii) bid rigging; (iii) market sharing; (iv) limiting supply.

Participants engaged actively throughout the session and sought clarifications about the scope of the law, application to the local context, for example on price recommendation which could not be discussed in an association; type of statistical data could be collected and shared; conditions to be attached to accreditation and certification or standard setting.

The session ended with presentation of booklets on Guidelines on Competition for Businesses by the Acting Director of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Department to the representatives of the associations. Posters on the Dos and Dont's for Business Association were also distributed to representatives of associations.

The Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs expressed appreciation to business associations for their cooperation in promoting business compliance by sharing inputs and to spreading words in educating their associations members in promoting awareness to create a healthy business environment.

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Courtesy of Department of Economic Planning and Development, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Saturday April 27, 2019

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