Thailand, 20 - 22 February - A three-day cartel investigations workshop was conducted in Bangkok and attended by more than 25 competition officials from Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. Key discussion points during the workshop included techniques and processes used to detect, investigate and take action against cartels within their respective jurisdictions.
Cartel conduct, such as price-fixing or market sharing, can result in consumers, businesses and governments paying higher prices, lower quality goods and services being produced, and less opportunities for investment and innovation. Effective detection and enforcement of cartels is vital in avoiding the associated costs to society, and continue to be a priority for many ASEAN Member State competition agencies.
Veranit Khlongmekhun, Office of Trade Competition Commission (OTCC) participant, underscored the importance of the agency understanding the basic principles of cartel investigations, particularly as the agency goes through a strong period of growth. "I thought the workshop was very helpful as we are all new recruits from the OTCC. This was our first investigative training session as a group, and learning about different techniques and methods has been very useful."
The workshop was delivered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with support from the Japan Fair Trade Commission. It provided participants with a combination of presentations, practical small-group activities, as well as peer-to-peer learning across different jurisdictions. By highlighting key elements of cartel investigations, the workshop deepened participants understanding on the skills required to navigate a cartel investigation, from the detection of a cartel to the reporting of findings. ACCC facilitator and Director of Enforcement, Guy Launder said, "Over the course of the workshop, participants worked together to uncover a hypothetical cartel and determine whether to pursue enforcement action. This also provided an opportunity to strengthen relationships between the Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian, Japanese and Australian competition agencies, which is important to support and sustain effective cooperation across the ASEAN region."
The workshop was organized by the ACCC, with support from the ASEAN Secretariat, as part of the multi-phase Competition Law Implementation Program (CLIP) under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area Economic Cooperation Support Program. Currently in its third phase, CLIP promotes collaboration between competition agencies in the region to share resources, skills and techniques.