Transcript of the video Remarks by Angel Gurría,
28 September 2020 - OECD, Paris
Welcome to the 18th meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Competition Forum. Let me start by thanking the Inter-American Development Bank for our partnership in this long-lasting venture, going back to 2003.
I would also like to thank you all for joining us. Your ownership and enthusiastic support are the foundations of the Forum’s success and longevity. Let me also add that we look forward to meeting physically next year in Rio de Janeiro at our next Forum to be hosted by Brazil’s Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (CADE).
This year’s Forum will focus on the important topic of Digital Evidence Gathering in Cartel Investigations. We will also peer review Ecuador’s competition law and policy. Let me congratulate the Government of Ecuador for its hard work and willingness to submit to such a rigorous examination. Like others before you, I am confident that this review will bring tangible benefits to Ecuador, laying the ground for important reforms.
We are living in uncertain times. The Interim Economic Outlook, which we released only 10 days ago, projects global GDP to fall by 4.5% this year, before picking up to 5% in 2021. However, output in many countries will still be below the pre-crisis levels by the end of 2021, and well below what was projected prior to the pandemic.
Many governments have taken unprecedented measures to keep people at work, children learning and societies functioning. We are seeing countries implement enormous stimulus packages to minimise the medium- to long-term damage that this shock is causing to the economy. These efforts require multi-dimensional policy responses from governments: from fiscal and monetary policies, to trade and industrial policies, among others.
The pandemic presents unparalleled challenges for competition authorities and competition enforcement.
Authorities around the world have learned that they must respond quickly and decisively to these rapidly evolving situations. Looking ahead, they will have a paramount role to play in helping our economies and societies exit the COVID-19 crisis. Let me briefly outline some examples.
Authorities need to balance pro-competitive efficiencies and anti-competitive effects, as well as protect consumers suffering from this crisis, while upholding the basic objectives of competition law.
In addition, collaboration between competitors may be necessary during crises to increase the production or distribution of certain essential products, or co-ordinate the provision of essential services. Recently, we have witnessed important efforts along this front in the region.
For example, the Brazilian government, in July 2020, clarified which agreements between competitors could be considered as lawful during the COVID-19 crisis, and defined the duration and a narrow scope for the legality of these agreements. And in Colombia, from March to June 2020, the Superintendecia de Industria y Comercio (SIC) sent 182 official requests of information to firms, and held 56 virtual audiences to monitor price increases and detect possible anticompetitive practices and prosecute abuses in pricing policies.
Competition authorities also have an important role to play in ensuring that governments respect the principle of competitive neutrality when designing and implementing State support. This includes equity assistance programmes, as well as informing governments’ exit strategies to ensure that exiting from ongoing support measures is done in a way that promotes competition.
The OECD remains dedicated to supporting these efforts. Last November, we launched the OECD Regional Centre for Competition in Latin America – a joint venture between the OECD and Peru’s Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y de la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual (Indecopi).
The Centre provides timely training to competition officials throughout the region, including, most recently, on COVID-19 related issues such as competition in the health sector, competition advocacy, and emergency procurements. In less than a year, these training activities have connected hundreds of competition officials from more than 20 jurisdictions. I strongly encourage you to participate in the activities of the Lima Centre.
The OECD has also been actively supporting our members and partners throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As part of our response, we launched a Digital Hub on Tackling the Coronavirus, providing a single entry point to the OECD’s analysis on the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. To date, we have published over 140 policy briefs in virtually all areas of our policy work including, of course, on competition policy. The Hub has already received more than one million unique visitors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I encourage you to think boldly whether competition is helping us to address the complex challenges resulting from the crisis as bravely and as effectively as possible.
Let’s keep up our fruitful collaboration; let’s keep enriching our work to tackle this crisis and build the post-COVID-19 world in a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable manner. Together we can “build back better”. Thank you.