Intellectual climate change pervades protectionism: Montek

Web India, March 19, 2018

Planning Commission Former Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday said an ‘intellectual climate’ change is occurring where arguments for protectionism are being forwarded to justify growth and inclusion.

“The brunt of which will be borne by consumers and businesses in the long-run,” he warned. While speaking at an International Conference on “Competition and Development” organised by CUTS International here, Mr Ahluwalia said that jurisdictions across the globe are promoting and implementing policies that erect protectionist barriers in order to promote growth and inclusion. “However, there are inherent costs of such measures and the same might actually end up negatively impacting consumers and adversely affecting global competitiveness of domestic businesses, especially exporters,” he said. By explicating the adverse impact of policy-led distortions to competition, Ahluwalia mentioned that the sources of interference in the competitive environment of markets are not limited to business behaviour and anti-competitive practices.

“Thus, competition policy could play a much more constructive role in casting its net over broader set of issues and help frame competitive market structures across sectors of the economy,” Dr Singh added.

Highlighting the role of market regulators to this end, Competition Commission of India (CCI) Chairman Dr DK Sikri stated that the concept of inclusive growth has taken centre-stage and a robust competition regime ensures that the rules of game remain fair for market players and ensures that entities do not enter into anti-competitive practices which distort market competition. Moreover, the virtue of competition lies in enlarging the size of the cake in terms of economic growth and bringing in economic efficiencies, Dr Sikri said.

While addressing the issue of jurisdictional overlaps between market regulators such as the CCI and specific sectoral regulators such as TRAI, Dr Sikri mentioned that each are governed by distinct legal frameworks and those should be respected.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Competition Committee Chairman Prof. Fredric Jenny and UNCTAD Head of Competition Policy and Consumer protection Ms. Teresa Moreira, ,stated that competition policy and law could play a major role in translating development objectives into economic policies. Moreover, competition can be utilised as a positive instrument for framing government policies and permeating economic policy making. Elucidating the broad theme of the conference – “Competition and Development – How can competition policy promote inclusive growth?”, CUTS International Secretary General Pradeep Mehta highlighted that competition policy has an inherent and critical role to play in development and it needs to be utilised optimally to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its role is further amplified in the context of developing countries which intend to promote inclusive growth and equality of business opportunities, he added.

Over 120 participants from across the Globe – South Asia, South East Asia, Africa, United States of America, United Kingdom and India participated in the conference.

On the occasion, CUTS Biennial Report, “India Competition and Regulation Report – 2017”, was also released.


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