November 09, 2017
The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, while emphasising on the importance of new ideas on trade, competition, regulation and development, praised the role of CUTS in this regard. He was delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the three day CUTS-CIRC International Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development. His pre-recorded video address was broadcasted at the conference.
The conference is fifth in the series bi-annual conferences organised in emerging economies by CUTS International, Jaipur, and CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition, Delhi. While delivering his welcome remarks, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International pointed out that the idea for biennial series was conceived to highlight and discuss steps to address regulatory failures and weak institutional capacities in emerging economies. The first conference was organised in Delhi in March 2007 and the last was organised in December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The theme for fifth biennial conference is fostering innovation for sustainable development. Other speakers during the opening session were Eduardo Perez Motta, Former President, Federal Competition Commission, Mexico; Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary General, UNCTAD and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Belgium; and Nitin Desai, Former Under Secretary General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations. Speaking on the merits of innovation based ecosystem, Eduardo Motta highlighted the benefits of innovation and emphasised that it has the potential to have positive social impact.
There is overlap between intellectual property and competition. He mentioned that awareness on importance of intellectual property rights which do not harm competition is needed. An important issue to ponder was how competition authorities would deal with the data markets. These issues need to be discussed at international forums such as UNCTAD, OECD and ICN.
Isabell Durant agreed with his views and mentioned that new digital technologies have created immense benefits for consumers. However, without optimal governance and regulation, dealing with such issues can be challenging, as they deal with topics like data protection and privacy. Developing countries have to deal with additional constraints such as lack of capacity, access to finance, weak infrastructure, poor research and development and ineffective policy frameworks.
Nitin Desai, however, highlighted that there is lack of evidence on impact of intellectual property on productivity growth and spending on research and development. Number of patents does not constitute a measure of innovation. Big breakthroughs in development have come through competition and not through intellectual property. Patent protection is becoming an instrument for corporate warfare. Consequently, the system is constraining innovation and not promoting the same. There is a need to modify the rigorous intellectual property regime, and such issues must be made subordinate to competition issues. Earlier regimes of shorter periods and prevention of evergreening is essential.
The opening addresses were followed by open floor discussion and questions from audience. Questions related to standard essential patents, institutional capacities of governments in emerging economies, among others. In his concluding remarks, Pradeep Mehta pointed out the power game is at the core of these issues, which relate to conflict between mercantilism and equity. Close to 100 participants from South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa participated in the conference.
For more details, please contact:
Udai S. Mehta, firstname.lastname@example.org