20 years of South African Competition Commission

20 years of South African Competition Commission


This week the Competition Commission of South Africa celebrates 20 years since its inception in 1999. To commemorate this momentous event Competition Commission will hold the 13th annual Competition Law, Economics & Policy Conference, hosted in partnership with the Competition Tribunal. A lot has been done to battle anticompetitive behaviour in the past 20 years, and of course, there are a lot of new challenges. In today's post, we are going to recall some of the most memorable and significant events and achievements in the past year.

South African Competition Commission has recently handled a case regarding the AIDS/HIV drugs provided by GSK. This proved to be an issue of high importance, as 40% of public health spending on pharmaceutical products in South Africa stem from this area.

Furthermore, it identified that in 1980 – 2000, pharmaceutical costs were the highest proportion of expenditure in the healthcare sector. The investigation led by the competition commission has determined that TNCs were overpricing the respective drugs by 40% through anticompetitive practices such as refusing to license local manufacturers. As a result of this case, Pharmaceutical TNC has agreed to license local manufacturers and decrease the fee from 40% to 5%. This has brought prices down to a level below the global average, which in turn has increased the demand and led to South Africa purchasing more of the AIDS/HIV drugs. Furthermore, this case has helped to soften licensing conditions, in the rest of the continent, which turned out to be life-saving.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Competition Amendment Act in February 2019. President Ramaphosa has emphasised that a vital factor that inhibits the growth of the South African economy is the high level of economic concentration. The Amendment signed this year will immensely benefit the situation by empowering the competition commission and tribunal in their 'battle' against anticompetitive behaviour.

According to the South African Competition Commission, the new amendments are likely to have a significant impact on the application and enforcement of competition law in South Africa.