In her keynote address at the ICC/IBA Pre-International Competition Network Forum this week, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb argued that competition agencies worldwide benefited from international enforcement cooperation because it reduced duplicative efforts to assess the similar conduct or proposed multi jurisdictional transactions and could lead to more efficient investigations. 

“Frequently, it also benefits the business community by helping to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses operating internationally,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said. 

Supply chain issues 

The ACCC chair noted that the importance of effective and competitive supply chains had been more evident than ever during the pandemic.

“The effects of COVID-related staff shortages, congestion at ports and transport bottlenecks and interruptions have disrupted the global supply of many retail goods from fresh food and groceries to critical equipment and medications and affected us all. 

“Australia’s position as an island continent has meant we have felt these effects acutely. Unfortunately, such disruptions have led to higher freight rates, which of course ultimately means higher prices for consumers.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said this disruption, in particular, had highlighted the significant advantages of international cooperation. 

“The ACCC recently formed a working group with our fellow competition authorities in the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand to share intelligence and work together to detect any attempts by businesses to use the pandemic as a veil for illegal conduct, such as collusion, in our global supply chains,” she said. 

“The ACCC hopes in this initiative and in collaborations with other agencies to contribute to actions to enhance the opportunity for recovery and growth, while maintaining competitive conditions in affected sectors.

“Regulators across the world have been highly conscious of the impact of COVID-19 on consumers, businesses and markets and, where appropriate, factored these circumstances into their consideration of competition matters in the short term to assist business to remain viable in the longer term.”

The ACCC said that it would seek to ensure disruptions to affected markets were temporary and limited to what was necessary. 

Source: Business Australia