BRICS needs a joint protocol to gain control over global monopolies: Experts

The Economic Times, October 20, 2023

The proposal to develop and adopt a unified protocol for the supervision and control of monopolies in the BRICS region was one of the most prominent proposals at the 8th CUTS-CIRC Biennial Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development.

The 8th CUTS-CIRC Biennial Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development organised together with the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre was held on October 09-10, in New Delhi and brought together a unique set of expert stakeholders to discuss the future role of BRICS countries from the perspective of Antitrust law – Access to Healthcare, Food security and Agriculture, Employment and Gig Economy, Climate Change.

The event preceded the 8th BRICS International Competition Conference held later this week. One of the options for a real solution to the problems discussed by experts and representatives of antimonopoly services of a number of countries was the proposal to develop and adopt a unified protocol for the supervision and control of monopolies in the BRICS region.

“The space for developing countries to speak out is limited. However, there is now an opportunity for institutions such as UNCTAD, BRICS, CUTS International, representing the interests of developing countries to develop their own vision of a system to regulate the market and solve social problems. It is crucial to create a new type of consensus where the common good and the SDGs really matter”, – said Alexey Ivanov, Director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre.

The main task for BRICS countries’ authorities is to aggregate negotiating power, to talk about how antimonopoly authorities can actually strengthen their leverage over large companies. And that is why co-operation can be a key point – the initiators of the protocol say.

“Some kind of protocol could be created between the BRICS countries. Global companies inevitably come into our jurisdiction, but they do not share information with regulators. They are not providing the same set of data to the regulators. They are essentially manipulating, and that is not fair. They operate globally, they have access to global information. They understand how commodity prices change. They live in these big cycles and they can predict what’s going to happen in the markets. And antitrust authorities have to operate within a very limited perimeter.

So, the suggestion could be to have some kind of regional regime where global companies have to come to all agencies at the same time with the same information and disclose what is happening globally, because separately countries are very dependent on global dynamics”, Ivanov explained.

Experts reminded that starting next year, with the addition of six new countries, BRICS will represent 42% of the world’s population and 36% of global GDP. At the same time, when it comes to global monopolies the legislative rights of the developing countries, which BRICS represents, remain neglected or even sometimes ignored.

And this state of affairs affects not only equitable access to mechanisms of economic control over the distribution of value added, access to technology and data. It has a direct impact on global food security and also affects the pace of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. By ignoring the rights and interests of developing countries, global monopolies are building a system that does not allow for a qualitative solution to the global challenges facing the human community.

The BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre was established in 2018 by the BRICS competition authorities. The Centre’s work is aimed at collecting and analysing information from competition authorities, identifying best practices, but primarily at preparing recommendations and developing approaches to competition policy that reflect the interests of the development of the BRICS economies.

The key mission of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre is to advance the development agenda and strengthen the role of competition regulation in overcoming imbalances in the global economy. The Centre brings together leading BRICS universities and independent researchers who are actively involved in the Centre’s main research projects: on global food chains and on new approaches to antitrust regulation of the digital economy.

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