ISLAMABAD - National and international competition law experts have termed competition policy essential for fostering trade and attracting local and foreign investment.

“There is a positive correlation between competition policy, trade and investment. Where a country enacts competition law and creates a competition agency, it sends a signal to all players, locally and international, that it is serious about enforcing competition policy,” said Dr. Joseph Wilson, CCP Member, at a recently held International Conference, “The Role of Competition in Fostering Trade and Investment,” held in Islamabad.

The session on “Nexus between competition regime and Trade & Investment” was also addressed by Professor William E. Kovacic, Professor of Law at George Washington University, USA, who is also regarded internationally as Guru of the anti-trust law, in his presentation on “Competition Policy as a Spur to Trade and Investment” said that states must improve domestic competitiveness by improving trade policies to reassure investors. The aims of strengthening domestic competitiveness should be to reduce costs, raise productivity and encourage innovation.  Kovacic said that competition helps by reducing cost/raising quality of key inputs such as transport, telecommunications, energy, finance, professional services, and public procurement.  For improve trade policy, there is a need to discourage protectionism and encourage regional integration.

In his presentation, CCP Member Dr. Joseph Wilson further said that just as a competition agency has a positive obligation of advocacy with the government, all government ministries/departments whose policies affect commercial activity and free trade must consult with competition agency before issuing such policy.

“Competition policy aims to promote rivalry among business and allocation of resources in which consumer welfare is maximized,” Dr. Wilson further said.

Trade policy objectives are to reduce protection, increase market access for exports and greater global integration. Trade and investment liberalization is seen as contributing to economic efficiency, competitiveness and export-led growth.

Dr. Wilson said that in Pakistan, legislation has been made to promote competition. PTA shall ensure that “fair competition in the telecommunication sector exists and is maintained.

 (Sec. 6(e). PEMRA shall ensure that open and fair competition is facilitated in the operation (Sec 23(2)). OGRA shall ensure that open and fair competition is facilitated in the operation (Sec 6(g)). CCP Shall prevent - preventing, restricting or reducing of competition,” he quoted the pertinent sections of various laws.

He added that under the Telecom Deregulation Policy, 2003, the Policy paved the way for bringing competition in the fixed telephony. The objectives, among others, of the Mobile Cellular Policy, 2004 are to increase choices for customers of cellular mobile services at competitive and affordable price; and encourage private investment in the cellular mobile sector.

He said that the new telecom policies have helped attracting foreign direct investment in Pakistan.