Adapting Competition Law to new trade agreements

11:33 | 04/02/2017 Economy- Society

(VEN) - The Competition Law has made positive contributions to ensuring justice for economic sectors since its effect on July 1, 2005. However the law needs to be amended and supplemented in order to advance Vietnam’s deeper integration into the global economy.  

adapting competition law to new trade agreements
Amendments to the Competition Law need to create the most favorable conditions for businesses and punish violators

Improving legal framework

The introduction of the Competition Law in 2004 marked Vietnam’s significant success compared to other regional countries. Vietnam was the fourth country in ASEAN to introduce a law governing competition, after Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. The Competition Law was enacted in 2004 and took effect on July 1, 2005.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Competition Authority and the Competition Council are responsible for handling and settling complaints about unfair competition practices under the provisions of the law.

Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Tat Thang, the senior researcher of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that the Competition Law has made positive contributions to the Vietnamese economy, as reflected in the Vietnam Competition Authority’s data. From 2010 to 2014, for example, the authority investigated 10-12 pre-litigation cases a year involving competition-restricting acts.

The investigation of competition-restricting acts by the Vietnam Competition Authority has obtained encouraging results. The authority has to date investigated eight competition-restricting cases involving nearly 70 businesses, including five cases moved to the Competition Council for handling and settlement in accordance with the provisions of the Competition Law. Total fines and fees in eight competition-restricting cases reached nearly VND5.5 billion.

adapting competition law to new trade agreements

The data indicates that the Vietnam Competition Authority received more than 300 complaints over the years and investigated 158 cases, of which 150 cases resulted in fines of nearly VND2 billion by the end of 2015. To avoid similar violations in the future, the Vietnam Competition Authority and the Competition Council have also issued a number of recommendations to firms, associations and state management agencies in compliance with the Competition Law.

Vietnam Competition Authority Deputy General Director Nguyen Phuong Nam said that the initial results have helped raise community awareness in terms of the role and importance of the Competition Law, contributing to ensuring justice for economic sectors. The law is seen as a prerequisite for promoting bilateral and multilateral trade relations with many countries in the world.

Overcoming difficulties

Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Tat Thang said that some provisions in the law have posed problems and revealed shortcomings over the years, especially in light of the growing number of unfair competition practices and abuse of monopolies.

Amendments to the Competition Law need to create the most favorable conditions for businesses and punish violators, he said.

adapting competition law to new trade agreements

Vietnam has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for nearly 10 years and has signed or is engaged in negotiating a series of new-generation free trade agreements. Therefore, Vietnam has to face many non-tariff barriers.

“The increasingly fierce competition requires a new strategy in international competition in order to make a difference. In addition, policies and legal documents encouraging the development of businesses are needed. The government should also consider the private sector as an important economic engine in the context of global integration and trade liberalization.

Moreover, the amended Competition Law needs to give more and more power to the Vietnam Competition Authority to create more favorable conditions in handling and settling complaints about competition cases involving competition-restricting acts.

Vietnam Competition Authority Deputy General Director Nguyen Phuong Nam:

The first session of the 14th National Assembly in 2016 included amendment of the Competition Law project in its program on

formulating laws and ordinances in 2017. The government issued a decision assigning the Ministry of Industry and Trade to

draft the amended law. Vietnam is expected to perfect the amended law in mid-2018 in accordance with international law and

the economic integration process.

Ha Thu