Competition, economic growth go hand in hand

Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam

Competition is crucial in driving economic growth. This was highlighted during the Competition Dialogue Series entitled ‘The Role of Competition Order in Economic Growth’ conducted at Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in the beginning of the year.

The dialogue series, organised by the Executive Secretariat of the Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam (CCBD), was aimed at creating awareness about the underlying concept of competition in the operation of a well-functioning market, and the enforcement of the Competition Order to create more opportunities for businesses and to maintain a fair marketplace.

The sessions also took the opportunity to inspire and stimulate interest of undergraduates and academia from UNISSA and UBD to undertake research in competition law and policy, considering the relevance and importance of the subject in achieving Brunei Darussalam’s long-term economic vision of a dynamic and sustainable economic growth.

In attendance during the sessions were Legislative Council (LegCo) member and Chair of the CCBD Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii. Also present during the session with UBD was Commissioner of the CCBD Dr Joyce Teo Siew Yean, who is the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Global Affairs) of UBD.

The sessions began with a lecture by competition advisor Dr Hassan Qaqaya, who is the former Head of Competition and Consumer Policies in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He is currently a senior fellow at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne teaching International Trade and Competition Policy.

Speakers during the dialogue session. PHOTO: UBD

The lecture was followed by a presentation on the development of Brunei Competition Order from the Executive Secretariat of the CCBD.

Dr Hassan Qaqaya underlined that competition is a process in a journey towards achieving market efficiency. Effective implementation of competition policy and law will encourage businesses to be innovative, productive, and compete on a fair-level playing field resulting in goods and services being provided to consumers at competitive prices. In fulfilling the potential of competition to contribute to economic growth, it is crucial to also have in place policies which are coherent with the principle of competition.

In encouraging local startups amongst the UBD entrepreneurship incubators, Dr Hassan Qaqaya highlighted on the need to exercise extra care in managing business information as sharing commercially sensitive information could pose a threat to competition.

Insights on the scope and key prohibitions of Brunei Competition Order were presented by the Executive Secretariat of the CCBD. The first key prohibition on Anti-Competitive Agreements, commonly known as cartels, came into force beginning this year.

Cartels refer to agreements made by two or more businesses to fix price; share market; limit supply and collude in tender process.

The executive secretariat encouraged universities to visit the Virtual ASEAN Competition Research Centre and partake in research to develop local expertise on competition issues.

As is described on the centre’s website, “The Virtual ASEAN Competition Research Centre (Virtual Centre) is a platform to stimulate research on competition issues in ASEAN. It contains a repository of relevant research materials for the competition community in ASEAN as well as a database of researchers with an interest on competition policy and law in ASEAN.”

A guest speaker in the dialogue session at UBD was Senior Legal Advisor at the Indonesia Competition Commission Mohammad Reza.

Through a forum-based discussion during the session, Mohammad Reza touched on Indonesia’s experience in the early stage of implementing competition law, with highlights on collusive tender.

The sessions ended with an encouraging and active dialogue among the attendees discussing topics on, including the application of the Competition Order and the impact of competition in the digital economy.