FTC’s Competition Division More Than Enforcement

Joy-Ann Gill Ministry News

The Fair Trading Commission. (FTC)

The Competition Division of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is not just about enforcement but about advocacy, market study and building the island’s economy.

Director, Antonio Thompson, emphasised this recently as he spoke to the role and function of the Division, at the opening of the FTC’s workshop on Competition Law and Policy at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa.

Introduced since 2009, the workshop has been undertaken in association with the United States Federal Trade Commission (USFTC) and used as a way of sensitising persons to the issues of competition law and policy.

Mr. Thompson, while noting the FTC came into existence in January 2001 and the Fair Competition Act in January 2003, stressed that competition law and policy were critical to the island’s economic development.

Admitting that his Division had learnt and grown as a result of the many challenges encountered, he said it was governed by the objectives of the Act, which included promoting and maintaining competition; prohibiting practices that restrict or threaten competition; and ensuring all enterprises had the opportunity to participate equitably in the marketplace.

Mr. Thompson added that the Competition arm, known for enforcement activities, had carried out investigations into anti-competitive conduct, such as abuse of dominance and anti-competitive agreements like price fixing. “And of course, we are also known for our mergers, that’s perhaps the one that sticks out a little bit more than others,” he said.

He noted that outside of enforcement activities, the Division undertook market studies to determine what was happening in markets that either stop or inhibit their progress.

Stating that presently they were engaged in three studies related to the poultry, telecommunications and hospitality sectors, Mr. Thompson said in two of those instances, the telecommunications sector and the hospitality sector, they were liaising with their Consumer Protection Division.

The Competition Division, he stated, was involved in advocacy as part of its business outreach to see where things could be changed or where competition could be better enhanced based on policy. He added that the organisation also highlighted to the Ministry aspects that may run afoul of competition legislation or policies.

Mr. Thompson said the Division was also mandated to cooperate regionally with other agencies, including the CARICOM Competition Commission in Suriname, and had readily assisted fellow agencies in Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad.

While acknowledging there was not yet an international cooperation agreement in place, the Director pointed out that his Division still had relations internationally because it was a member of the International Competition Network, a combination of competition agencies worldwide.

Commending this body, he added: “One of the initiatives that came out of that was more or less a relationship with the USFTC and we have been able to call on them from time to time when we have a question about a case that we are doing.”

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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