The Competition Law, a piece of legislation deemed crucial in the digital economy, will be completed early next year, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said yesterday.
Speaking at the 8th Asean Competition Conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, Minister Sorasak said the upcoming legislation focuses on promoting a healthy business environment and creating a level playing field for companies. These, he said, are essential in attracting foreign investment.
The minister highlighted the importance of increasing competition in the country, arguing that it benefits consumers by giving them more choice, enhancing access to goods of higher quality and lowering prices. More competition, he noted, also promotes productivity and innovation, key elements in creating economic growth.
Two related laws recently came into effect. The much-awaited e-commerce and customer protection laws came into effect on Nov 2 after the drafts were signed by King Norodom Sihamoni.
“I strongly believe the two recently-adopted laws, together with the Competition Law, when adopted, will play a vital role supporting trade, promoting fair competition, creating new businesses, and protecting consumer interests in the context of evolving technology, e-commerce, and the corporate landscape,” Mr Sorasak said.
“Equally important is that with the rapid development of digital technologies and economies, new business models are being created all the time. This means competition agencies are facing new challenges to ensure fair competition, both in physical and digital environments,” he said.
In this context, he explained, the exchange of information and experiences identifying and analysing competition concerns among authorities is crucial.
“I would like to urge everyone to discuss and exchange ideas on issues related to the digital economy including identifying, deterring and combating anti-competition conduct in the digital economy, which requires clear skills in the investigation and in-depth data analysis,” he said.
Michael Tene, Asean’s deputy secretary-general of the Community and Corporate Affairs Department, said, “Competition must be fair so that everyone especially small and medium-sized enterprises can participate and benefit from the opportunities from rising competitiveness and a conducive environment in the region.”
“At this stage, there are differences among the [Asean] member countries, but we are learning from each other,” he said.
Mr Tene pointed out that the conference’s goal is to enable Asean members to learn from each other as well as from other countries around the world when it comes to competition-related legislation.
“The goal is to make significant progress and strengthen the competition policy and law in the region.”
So Phonnary, executive vice president & group chief operations officer at Acleda Bank, told Khmer Times that without a competition law, companies in the Kingdom rely on internal policies, codes of conduct and the civil code to protect consumer’s rights.
She said the upcoming law will have a profound effect. “The competition law will improve services and products and attract more customers.”
In the next ten years, Asean competition authorities are expected to focus their attention on effectively implementing competition laws by strengthening the capacity of authorities to enforce the laws, both at the institutional and technical levels.
Asean also needs to address the competition environment with respect to ensuring compliance and enhancing support from the various stakeholders such as consumers and relevant governmental bodies.