In an interconnected world, the principles of fair competition in markets and cooperation amongst competition authorities serve as an instrument for economic growth and innovation. The 8th BRICS International Competition Conference (ICC), to be hosted by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) at New Delhi during October 11-13, offers a platform to discuss, analyse and address significant competition-related issues and fosters collaboration among the BRICS nations to ensure that markets remain open, competitive and innovative.

India, a burgeoning economy with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and a vast consumer market, recognises the indispensable role of fair competition. The Conference will allow the BRICS partner countries to share our insights, learn from each other and work together to devise regulatory tools that facilitate the same. The collaborative spirit of the BRICS nations is a powerful force that can help in shaping global economic trends and fostering innovation.

The BRICS ICC was first contemplated in 2009 with a focus on challenges of competition policy development in the BRICS countries. This biennial conference has been vital in promoting cooperation, experience sharing and mutual learning amongst the competition authorities of BRICS countries. Over the years it has emerged as a major platform for high-level exchange on competition law and policy matters.

During the BRICS (then BRIC) Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16, 2009, a joint declaration was issued highlighting the need for cooperation in various aspects of economic growth and sustainable development. The first Conference was hosted in September 2009 in Kazan, Russia by the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia. Subsequently, the conferences were organised by China in 2011, India in 2013, South Africa in 2015 and Brazil in 2017.

In 2019, BRICS ICC was hosted by Russia, followed by China in 2021. The 8th BRICS ICC 2023 is now set to be hosted by India and its theme ‘New Issues in Competition Law and Policy – Dimensions. Perspectives. Challenges’ resonates with the current global context.

Amidst rapidly evolving global markets and technological advancements, fresh challenges and dimensions in competition law and policy have emerged. These encompass a range of issues such as new-age markets, global mergers and climate change, all of which necessitate a renewed perspective on competition policy. The Conference aims to unravel these complex issues. This mutual effort will play a crucial role in addressing these modern challenges of competition law and policy, ensuring that markets remain fair, contestable, and conducive to sustained economic growth.

The BRICS competition authorities have continually worked to create effective procedures and frameworks. Under the auspices of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the BRICS competition authorities, working groups in the automobile, digital, food and pharmaceutical industries have accomplished a deeper understanding of these markets and competition policy response to the same. The BRICS joint documents on the leniency programme and the Digital Economy report would be released and discussed during the conference and will further this endeavour.

The Conference will explore new issues in competition law and policy in the BRICS countries and adoption of soft law tools to create a pro-competitive environment in the markets. It will also focus on critical areas such as competition analysis in the digital economy, sustainability and the role of market studies in identifying emerging competition issues and challenges in merger control from an international perspective.

Global shift

The emphasis on sustainability and climate change reflects the global shift towards environmentally conscious policies and practices. Markets need to incorporate these policy imperatives. Unfettered competition in markets has also to be green. The Conference will deliberate on the intersection of competition law and environmental sustainability, offering a platform for dialogue and collaboration on these pressing global issues.

The role of market studies is another area of focus. They serve as a vital tool for understanding market dynamics, identifying competition concerns, and formulating effective policies. The Conference will delve into the significance, methodologies, and challenges of market studies in addressing emerging competition issues.

The international perspective on challenges in merger control will provide a comprehensive understanding of the global merger control landscape. The discussions will explore the complexities and best practices in merger control, offering valuable insights and fostering international cooperation in this critical area of competition law and policy.

The Conference will offer a forum for in-depth conversations between the heads and representatives of the competition agencies from the BRICS countries as well as those from other countries. It will also provide an opportunity for competition law experts, representatives from multilateral institutions, academic institutions to discuss competition issues having global impact. Towards the Conference’s conclusion, the heads of BRICS competition authorities will sign a joint declaration, reaffirming our united vision and collaborative spirit.

With increasing cross-border dimension of our work, international cooperation is vital and this forum gives us an opportunity to develop meaningful collaborations and learn from each other. We hope to make the most of it.

The writer is Chairperson, Competition Commission of India