Bali, Indonesia, 15-16 November 2011
H.E. Dr. Bayu Krisnamurthi, Vice Minister of Trade, Indonesia
Honourable Mr. M. Nawir Messi, Chairperson, ASEAN Experts Group on Competition,
Distinguished Speakers and Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here at this important and timely Conference. Allow me to first commend the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC), chaired by Indonesia for this important initiative. Indonesia is the Chair of ASEAN and notably this week is the ASEAN Summit week in Bali.
I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the co-organizers of this Conference, which include the AEGC, the Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition of Indonesia (or the KPPU), and the ASEAN Secretariat. The Conference has brought together a very impressive list of speakers as well as a large number of high-level stakeholders as participants. I wish to thank the German International Cooperation (GIZ), ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Area Economic Cooperation Work Programme, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their generous funding and support for the first ASEAN Competition Conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Competition policy serves a public good. Facilitating fair competition based on merit encourages business rivalries and a level playing field, reduces abusive, dominance or collusive practices, and improves efficiency of resource mobilization and allocation within and across economies. Consumers benefit through increased choice, better quality, lower prices, and more transparent disclosure of market situation and product information.
However, moulding a culture of healthy competition and business rivalries has become even more critical in this part of the world and now assumes a much larger footprint in growth-oriented and people-centered governance, more so for ASEAN as we move towards the AEC by 2015. This trend reflects the increasingly competitive, innovative and dynamic developments and inter-linkages, often in real time, in the global and regional economies.
ASEAN envisages itself to be a highly competitive economic region characterised by the creation of a level playing field so no one player has an unfair advantage over another in conducting its business activities in ASEAN. Second, keeping the ASEAN market open, devoid of restrictions for domestic and transnational enterprises as well as for the movement of human and capital resources in the region, would ensure the broad-based and inclusive development of industries, communities and peoples across the ASEAN economies.
On another perspective, the AEC is an outward-looking entity – one which is fully integrated into the world economy. The globalisation of trade and investment has been an engine, both significant and irreplaceable, of socio-economic advancement and diversification in ASEAN. But there are complex obligations for compliance by all business players and actors in the global and regional stage.
To name just a few, competition-related obligations can be found multilaterally in the TRIPS Agreement, the GATS, the Agreements on Safeguards and on Anti-dumping, and the GATT itself. At the bilateral and plurilateral levels, competition disciplines are present in a large number of free trade agreements or free trade areas – especially those concluded bilaterally between developed-developing countries or region-to-region, and developed-country groupings and their developing-country counterparts.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The critical and positive contribution of competition to the outward-looking, market-driven and people-centered process of regional integration and development has been explicitly acknowledged by ASEAN Leaders. In adopting the AEC Blueprint in November 2007, our Leaders have committed to “endeavour to introduce competition policy in all Member States by 2015.”
It has long been well recognized that there are always challenges in unlocking opportunities. A long and winding road lies ahead in the realization of ASEAN’s policy goals in the field of competition. Economy-wide competition policy and competition regulatory bodies are in place in most, but not all, ASEAN Member States. Meanwhile, ASEAN remains highly diverse in terms of development levels, resources availability and institutional capabilities.
Other formidable challenges facing the region and the AEC include the upward trends in economic liberalization and policy deregulation as well as in global knowledge creation and technological progress. Not infrequently, these development trends are accompanied by more extensive, sophisticated and subtle business transactions or bundles of interacting business arrangements and practices. Many of these may not wholly or always be pro-competition, by design or in effect. A compounding factor is the emergence of a multi-polar global economy whose environment has exhibited severe strains and stresses.
In moving towards the agreed goals in competition-related regional cooperation, therefore, ASEAN will need to keep track of a variety of developments at both the international and regional levels. ASEAN will then have to determine what best practices can be adopted within the region. In this process, the region has to pay due regard to the varying levels of development and capacity of its Member States; the broader interests and welfare of its consumers and producers; and the discharge of ASEAN’s own obligations as a competitive, meaningful and reliable member of the international community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, I am pleased to note the AEGC has achieved solid progress and gained significant momentum in regional cooperation since its establishment by the ASEAN Economic Ministers in August 2007.
I see this Conference as a platform and opportunity to share lessons learnt and insights gained in the design, introduction, advocacy and reform of competition policy and institutions. I am confident that these lessons and insights would be useful in assisting the ASEAN Member States and their relevant authorities and the AEGC to chart the way forward for regional and national activities in the field of competition.
I wish you every success in your deliberations and exchange of experiences at this important and timely Conference.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.