International cooperation the key to competitive regional economies
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has delivered the keynote address at the inaugural Global Competition Review Law Leaders Asia-Pacific 2012 conference in Singapore.
Mr Sims has described stronger ties between regulators in the Asia-Pacific region as necessary for building competitive regional economies.
“Businesses can be more efficient operators in the region when there is confidence in regulatory decision making,” Mr Sims said.
“To ensure investment and returns to businesses and consumers in the Asia Pacific are maximised, institutions and particularly competition regulators in the region need to be seen as effective not only individually but collectively.”
Mr Sims described the wide range of experience in the region where some agencies like those in Japan, Korea and Singapore are acknowledged worldwide, and those for example in Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia are in the early stages of their development.
“There are a handful of countries where there is law but no agency. And there are a few where there is no agency and no law. This is a challenge for enforcement agencies that propose to cooperate with their peers across the region,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC and international regulatory agencies regularly liaise through delegations, secondments, telephone conferences and at international events. The ACCC has also taken the lead in developing formal bi-lateral links with regulators across the region.
“Merger investigations provide an example of effective inter-agency co-operation where the need arises. This cooperation is vital considering that mergers and acquisitions in the Asia Pacific region are among the biggest in the world.”
However, Mr Sims warned that ad-hoc arrangements may no longer meet the needs of a rapidly shifting regional economy.
“Co-operative efforts in the region have served adequately until now, but we need to ensure our focus shifts from friendly co-operation to building strong partnerships.”
“Building greater and deeper cooperation will take goodwill and perseverance. However, I have little doubt that if we commit to action we can identify pragmatic solutions.”