Participants have discussed the extension of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the BRICS countries' competition authorities and closer cooperation in considering global deals of economic concentration.
The heads of the competition authorities of Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa also heard a report from Alexey Ivanov, Director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centку and the HSE-Skokovo Institute for Law and Development.
At the end of the meeting, Ms Gan Lin, Vice Minister of the State Administration for Regulation of Markets of the PRC, informed the participants of the meeting about the preparations for the 7th BRICS International Conference on Antitrust Law, which is held every two years in different countries of the Association. The Seventh BRICS Antimonopoly Conference will be held in China in Sichuan province in September 2021. The Chinese colleagues invited all participants of the meeting to actively engage in working on the topics and materials of the upcoming conference.
In his report, Alexey Ivanov spoke about the work of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre over the past five years and about its plans until the end of 2022.
The main task of the BRICS Center is to provide academic support for cooperation between the antimonopoly authorities of the BRICS countries and unite the scientific communities of our countries.
The key challenge facing antitrust agencies around the world today is the growing concentration of capital and other resources, including data and technology, in the hands of an ever-decreasing number of players. For the BRICS countries, the problems of rising inequality and stagnation in economic development are more acute than for developed economies. In this context, the critical mission of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre should be to advance the development agenda and strengthen the role of antitrust regulation in overcoming imbalances in the world economy.
The Centre's team sees its role not only in providing scientific support to the competition authorities of the BRICS countries in developing new approaches to antitrust regulation but also in shaping a new global agenda that will help smooth out inequality and remove development imbalances in the world. Alexey stated that:
"In the research projects already implemented by the BRICS Competition Centre, in close cooperation with our partners from leading universities in China, India, Brazil and South Africa, the problems of promoting development and overcoming inequality in the world economy by means of competition law and policy run like a red thread". The work of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centtr on the basis of the HSE is a sign of recognition from both the Russian Government and our BRICS partners for the deep expertise formed at the HSE on antitrust law and merit in promoting the development theme at the international level.
The Higher School of Economics has already become a centre of attraction for leading universities from the BRICS countries, which have become partners of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre. Over the past five years, these universities have actively participated in the Center's key research projects - on global food chains and new approaches to antitrust regulation of the digital economy. The work of the Centre has once again confirmed that on the international agenda, Russian research groups could become drivers of scientific cooperation. Moreover, this cooperation can also turn theory into practice. The outcome of the food project was, in particular, a change in approaches to the coordination of transactions of economic concentration on a global scale in emerging markets. In the discussion on the digital economy, the Centtr pushed the BRICS antimonopoly agencies to take practical steps to transform regulation, which in Russia was expressed, in particular, in the development of the Fifth Antimonopoly Package and a change in several approaches in law enforcement practice. Similar legislative initiatives at the suggestion of our partners in these countries are already being considered in India and China.
Among the promising areas of work of the BRICS Antimonopoly Centre for the next three years, Alexey Ivanov noted the following:
- the second phase of the study on global food chains with a focus on the oligopoly of global grain traders;
- deepening the digital project in the light of the new realities that the pandemic has brought;
- an empirical study on the joint fight of antitrust authorities against cross-border cartels (the presentation of the preliminary results of the study will take place at the UNCTAD international conference in Geneva in October this year);
- a new large-scale research project on competition in pharmaceutical markets.
The pharmaceutical markets project will become a natural continuation of the research work of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre, based on the established format of cooperation with the antimonopoly authorities of our countries. Thus, for each of the research topics of the Center, working groups were created from representatives of the antitrust authorities of the BRICS countries. The WGs on food markets and the digital economy have set priorities and ensured a strong link between the BRICS competition authorities and the research team of the Center conducting relevant research. The pharmaceutical project, which is being implemented in close cooperation with the working group on pharmaceutical markets, already formed by the BRICS competition agencies, will not be an exception.
The project on competition in pharmaceutical markets includes three key areas: analysis of structural problems of the global pharmaceutical market (which have become especially noticeable in the context of a pandemic); anti-competitive practices of buying up the achievements of competitors, the so-called 'Killer acquisitions', i.e. mergers and acquisitions aimed at eliminating potential competition by buying up competitive projects at an early stage, which significantly hinders the development of innovation and dissemination of knowledge; the problems of reducing barriers to entry to the market for generic drugs and, in general, the problems of increasing the availability of medicines through antitrust regulation.
"There is a clear demand for justice in the world today, for changing the architecture of the world economy, and this demand cannot be ignored. Antitrust law can become one of the effective tools to satisfy this demand if it is actively and coordinatedly applied by our countries, which represent almost half of the world population and economic power ", - said Alexey Ivanov.