The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate cooperation with the Competition Bureau Canada (CBC) in the enforcement of national competition and consumer protection laws. This is the CCCS's third competition law cooperation agreement with a foreign competition authority, following a similar MoU with Indonesia’s Commission for the Supervision of Business Cooperation (KPPU) in August 2018, and a Memorandum of Cooperation agreement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission in June 2017. These cooperation agreements are aimed at increasing cross-border competition law enforcement cooperation by, in particular, encouraging the notification of enforcement activities that potentially affect the important interests of either competition authority, exchanging information and coordinating enforcement of cases of mutual interest.
On a related note, the CCCS launched the ASEAN Regional Cooperation Framework (ARCF) and the ASEAN Competition Enforcers' Network (ACEN) when it chaired the ASEAN Expert Group on Competition in 2018. The ACRF is a set of guidelines for ASEAN Member States to cooperate on competition cases. It also sets out the general objectives, principles, and possible areas of cooperation among ASEAN Member States that may be undertaken on a bilateral, multilateral, sub-regional or regional approach in relation to the development, application and enforcement of competition laws. The ACEN is part of the ASEAN Competition Action Plan (2016-2025) initiatives to develop enforcement mechanisms to handle cross-border cases within ASEAN. It is aimed at enabling mutual understanding of each other's competition enforcement goals and objectives, and encouraging information sharing between ASEAN competition authorities. The ACEN will, as a start, look into facilitating enforcement cooperation on mergers and acquisitions with a cross-border dimension.
The MoU with the CBC is the CCCS's first consumer protection law cooperation agreement. The CCCS took on the additional function of administering the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act in April 2018. The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act protects consumers against unfair trade practices in Singapore. We expect the CCCS to introduce guidelines on price transparency soon.
Osborne Clarke comment
As cross-border competition matters become more common, we expect more cooperation between the CCCS and foreign competition authorities, particularly in the form of information sharing and coordination of enforcement action. Businesses involved in cross-border merger and acquisition activities should manage merger control risk from the outset as it can disrupt transaction timetables. Our competition practice advises on all aspects of merger control in Singapore. We work with our clients to devise a merger notification strategy that best fits their commercial and operational needs. OC Queen Street’s competition practice is part of the Osborne Clarke’s wider international network. If a deal triggers merger-control rules in multiple jurisdictions, our international team is equipped to coordinate the entire filing processes for our clients. Our competition practice understands the ASEAN competition law landscape, while Osborne Clarke’s teams in Europe have the expertise to assist our clients who require clearance at a national level or before the European Commission.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you like to discuss how these developments may potentially affect your business operations in Singapore and the region.