Keynote Speech : Aubeck Kam
COMPETITION POLICY IN ASIA : MOVING TOWARDS CONVERGENCE
Aubeck KAM (Chairman, Competition Commission of Singapore) delivered the keynote speech, underlining that we have seen significant progress in the development and enforcement of competition law in Asia in the last decade. Multilateral efforts have been made and the process towards convergence has been helped by the sharing of knowledge that takes place in fora such as the OECD and the ICN. Some would consider that the ultimate success for this process of convergence would be the emergence of a common competition policy and law expanding to all of Asia, but it is unrealistic to expect that such an objective will be achieved any time soon, mainly due to the diversity characterising the Asian region and the different stages of development of competition law and policy across Asia. The Regional Free Trade Agreements do not contemplate such a goal, even as a remote possibility. According to Kam, the focus must be put on identifying the specific situations in which taking a “one size fits all” approach is desirable. With regard to two areas in particular, we will continue to see considerable diversity across Asia, but the different approaches adopted should not be seen as a sign of failure ; rather, they should be regarded as tailored and more flexible solutions to the existing problems. The first area is cross-border cooperation in competition enforcement. One example of virtuous cooperation was the cooperation between Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission and counterparts in the US, EU and Singapore in the capacitors cartel in 2015. Cross-border cooperation could be advanced and made more efficient if there were greater consistency in the substantive and procedural competition laws across Asia, and if the many asymmetries were eliminated. The second area is the position that competition authorities have in the context of their domestic political economy. Some authorities are more mature and established institutions, whereas others are still trying to find their position and to establish their credibility. In these two areas, it is too early to expect that a single approach is adopted, but what is important is that the direction of change is positive and convergent. In other areas (such as in the public effort to enhance the understanding and support of competition policy, and in developing a policy for the e-commerce sector), it would be meaningful and productive to strive for a “one size fits all” model across Asia.