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Presentation of Digital Era Competition BRICS Report: new challenges of the digital age

Presentation of Digital Era Competition BRICS Report: new challenges of the digital age

20.09.2019
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Technological development underlies economic growth and stimulates the development of innovations. At the same time, the digitalisation of the global economy requires the transformation of antimonopoly regulation, the adaptation of regulatory approaches to new realities, and the revision of competition policy in the context of its applicability to the era of the digital economy. Within the session on digital economy reregulation within the framework of , the participants have not only discussed the new report on digital competition but have also considered the critical issues related to the development of competition and the improvement of antimonopoly laws in the digital economy in the framework of the panel. The discussions included issues, covered in the report produced by the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Research Centre, such as high economic concentration in the digital economy, which has become a new challenge for antimonopoly authorities worldwide; platform-based businesses; data regulations; merger control and many others. Representatives from BRICS countries and other partners have looked at examples and cases in the market as well as discussed tools and mechanisms for international cooperation in digital markets.

In this panel, the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre presented a report on new approaches to protecting competition in the digital economy as a part of the VI BRICS Competition Conference. The report was published on the night of September 18-19 on our website and is available to the general public in English. An overview of the main findings of the work in the languages of each of the BRICS countries will be posted in the nearest future.

The study includes an analysis of the problems of antitrust regulation in digital markets around the world and the latest experience of the BRICS countries. Researchers have identified regulatory gaps in jurisdictions where the development of the digital economy is ahead of legislation and enforcement practice. A comparison was also made of the approaches of the BRICS antitrust regulators.

The presentation was held by the principal authors and ideological inspirers of the report, director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development and the BRICS Competition Centre Alexey Ivanov and professor at the University College London Ioannis Lianos, as well as the leaders of the country research groups that worked on the report.

Alexey Ivanov, Director of the BRICS Competition Centre, Director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute of Law and Development, said that the process of writing the report corresponded to the spirit of the times - a network of international experts was formed based on the BRICS Competition Centre, primarily from the BRICS countries, but also from Europe and the USA. This network structure worked in several formats - face-to-face meetings with brainstorming sessions and collective remote work with texts and data. He added that he thought the very fact that such a network activity of leading scientists from the BRICS countries was able to be organised could already be considered a success. According to him, the report contains a detailed analysis of competitive dynamics in the context of large-scale digitalisation of the global economy. Alexey Ivanov emphasised that the team has focused on the problems and interests of emerging markets, especially the BRICS countries. The study is designed to push the expert community to expand, and somewhere to substantially revise the current model of competition regulation, which has already led to an unprecedented increase in the market power of digital giants and economic inequality in the world. The report also contains recommendations for competition authorities on working with new challenges of the digital age. Analysis of problems for antitrust regulation. In our opinion, the critical direction of the development of global
Andrei Tsarikovsky, State Secretary, Deputy Head of the FAS Russia has co-chaired the discussion together with his colleagues from academia. In his opening speech, he stated that the competition authorities in their work rely heavily on the expert and analytical base created by the forces of scientists and researchers. However, he further noted that scientific expertise is of particular importance now that the digital economy is actively developing and we must respond to new challenges. He continued by emphasising that a strategic, academic view of competition protection policy on the one hand and a practical approach by antitrust authorities on the other is like two wings of a bird of antitrust regulation, which can fly and gain altitude only under the conditions of cooperation and cooperation between regulators and the scientific and expert community.

After the presentation and evaluation of the main features of the report, it was discussed and commented on by world-renowned academics and practitioners in the area of the competition law. An extensive list included professionals from multiple international organisations, such as UNCTAD, OECD and WTO.

Frederic Jenny, the Chairman of the Competition Committee of the OECD, has underlined the importance of the BRICS cooperation as Digital economy is essential, especially for the BRICS countries in order to overcome geography obstacles. He added further that BRICS have developed very sophisticated models of competition and are setting an example where, for the first time in history that developing countries are at the forefront of trying to define the new markets through cooperation in research, resulting in precedents such as the Digital report, instead of copying the development from developed countries  Luigi Zingales, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business , has shared a valuable opinion on the report and his view of the modern problems in the market. He stated that the BRICS Competition Centre has done a great job in preparing the report and added that in further work of the Centre he expects in particular, concrete proposals for coordinating the efforts of the competition authorities of the BRICS countries. For example, in the framework of antitrust control of global transactions of economic concentration, because together they are capable of influencing the behaviour of global digital platforms that have received tremendous market power in the modern economy.
Overall, the conference hugely benefitted from all of the speakers and academics involved in the making of the report and general experts within the competition law framework who attended alongside the BRICS members.

Competition policy should promote the openness of digital platforms, reduce their manipulative potential and eliminate monopolistic barriers. Digitalisation plays a critical role in the globalisation process. At the same time, it accelerates the growth of inequality on a global and local scale, which is one of the critical challenges for the further development of the digital economy. Advances in machine learning, the growth of computer capabilities, the development of blockchain technology and the increasing availability of information - these trends continue to change the global economy in terms of the development of "digital capitalism". The emergence of the fintech industry, for example, is associated with the rise of specific forms of digital competition, which are significantly different from the competition in the traditional economy. Such changes entail numerous risks and challenges to competition in the digital environment, especially given the growing influence of digital platforms and growing inequality.

Existing approaches to new challenges of "numbers" often automatically copy the legal tradition that was established at the previous stages of industrial development. This leads to the emergence of fragmented legal regimes for regulating the phenomena of the digital economy, such as big data, digital platforms, social networks, artificial intelligence. Thus, lawmakers are not able to form an integral picture of the "digital future", which is beneficial for society and consumers, which means that the legal status quo remains in the balance of power in the world market, digital giants retain their influence. In such a situation, the constructive development of the tools of competition law and a holistic view of interaction with other areas of the law becomes even more significant. The Digital Report by the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Research Centre has become a first and critically important step on a long road of the competition law development in the challenging digital era.