AmCham, EU push competition bill; House vows to prioritize its passage

September 2, 2014 at 12:21

Category: Economy

31 Aug 2014 Written by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz


THE American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham) and the European Union (EU) delegations to the Philippines pushed for the passage of the proposed Philippine Fair Competition Act, or antitrust law.

In a position paper submitted to the House Committee on Trade and Industry chaired by Nacionalista Party Rep. Mark Villar of Las Piñas, AmCham Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe and AmCham Legislative Committee Chairman John Forbes said the competition law and its proper enforcement are key ingredients of well-functioning markets.

“We welcome the work of Congress to address this priority legislation as a means to support the consumer welfare and boost the competitiveness of the Philippine economy,” they said.

“We applaud the much-improved current version of the House bill. It is, in most ways, consistent with international norms and best practices found in other jurisdiction in the region, but also those of the United States and European Union,” they added.

The AmCham also raised some clarifications in the definition of terms and penalties.

“With these minimal changes, the House bill rectifies the outstanding concerns of significance to the American business community. We look forward to working with the Congress in securing final passage of this important legislation,” the group said.

EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux, head of the EU delegation in Manila, also in a position paper, said the EU, through its trade-related technical assistance, has been pushing the passage of a good competition law for the Philippine economy.

“The EU would welcome the introduction of a competition law in the Philippines, covering all sectors of the economy. Having a competition law that features antitrust, abuse of dominance, merger review, state-owned enterprises and state-aid control would be, most of all, beneficial for the Filipino population,” he said.

The ambassador added that, in addressing public interest, the objective of the measure should be to make the markets work better by ensuring that all companies compete equally and fairly.

“This benefits consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole. This should be the main, if not the only, public interest that the law should address,” he said.

“From a commercial point of view, a competition law will provide a more-attractive investment climate for foreign direct investments and could facilitate possible future negotiation of an FTA [free-trade agreement] between our economies as the areas covered are usually part and parcel of FTAs that the EU is negotiating,” the ambassador added.



ON his part, Villar said his committee will consider the positions of AmCham and the EU.

Villar also said the panel will prioritize the passage of the proposed Philippine Fair Competition law. “This [bill] is moving quite quickly [in the lower chamber] as this bill is one of the priority measures of the 16th Congress, as well as [of] the Palace,” he said, adding, “the passage of the bill is also a preparation for the 2015 Asean Integration.”

According to Villar, the committee is still consolidating 12 competition bills, which include Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s version.

The lawmaker said these bills propose to create the Philippine Fair Trade Commission, a powerful independent body, tasked to investigate and prosecute erring corporations, businessmen and other people engaged in unfair trade practices.



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