The ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC) recently adopted for implementation several proposals from the Philippines to accelerate regional integration of ASEAN Member States (AMSs) by 2015. The Philippines was elected vice-chair of the AEGC for the first time last 24 April 2012 and assumed the chairmanship for the years 2013-2014.
In attendance were 30 officials from competition authorities of nine (9) AMSs, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Representatives from the AustraliAn Competition and Consumer Commission, New Zealand Commerce Commission, and ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia also participated.
The unanimous decision came after deliberations during the 12th AEGC Meeting which was held back to back with the 1st ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) Competition Committee Meeting on 12-14 November 2013 in Cebu City.
The initiatives proposed by the Philippines include the (1) development of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on regional cooperation on competition policy and law (CPL) with the aim of setting the groundwork for cooperation in the areas of enforcement, information sharing, and technical assistance; (2) development and implementation of sector studies with focus on sectors that impact on consumer welfare and public interest; (3) categorization of AEGC documents as a means to effectively manage the knowledge assets of competition authorities and establish a system for exchange of information among AMSs; and (4) measuring the effectiveness of AMSs individually and collectively as ASEAN though major indicators.
The Philippines submitted concept notes indicating the objectives, specific deliverables, and timeline for the implementation of each initiative.
Additionally, the concept note for the 4th ASEAN Competition Conference (ACC) scheduled for July 2014 was similarly approved with the theme "Building Blocks for Effective Enforcement: The ASEAN Approach, Effective CPL Implementation through Imposition of Appropriate Sanctions."
The Philippines takes an active role in ASEAN through the Department of Justice - Office for Competition (DOJ-OFC).
"Overall, the series of international meetings conducted strengthened the cooperation among the AMSs and their partners towards realizing the common vision of an integrated ASEAN region," said Secretary of Justice Leila M. De Lima.
"Through the valuable support of the international community and its local partners, the DOJ-OFC, as the designated competition authority pursuant to Executive Order No. 45 approved on 9 June 2011, shall remain proactive in fulfilling its mandate to level the playing field" said Assistant Secretary Geronimo L. Sy, Head of the Office for Competition.