VNHNO - Foreign enterprises manipulating the Vietnamese market from abroad and causing negative impacts to the country are now under the jurisdiction of the new Competition Law.
The information was heard at a workshop on the dissemination of the new Competition Law 2018, co-organised by the Vietnam Competition Authority (under the Ministry of Industry and Trade), in Hanoi, on September 13.
The event is under the "Australia Supports Economic Reform in Vietnam" programme (Aus4Reform). The Aus4Reform programme, sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, assists the Government of Vietnam in achieving its objectives of improving the business investment climate towards high labour productivity and increased quality and competitiveness of the economy aimed at fast and sustainable development. The programme is worth US$6.5 million and will be deployed from 2017 to 2021.
Based on Australian experience and with support from the Aus4Reform, Vietnam’s Competition Law 2018 introduces new rules on controlling restricted competitive behaviours and economic concentration.
The new bill was approved in last June by the 14th National Assembly at its 5th session with 95.28% of the deputies voting for approval. Compared to the previous Competition Law of 2004, the new law is based on a combination of economic and legal thinking, which emphasises the need to increase enforcement effectiveness.
According to Tran Phuong Lan, Head of the Economic Concentration Control Department under the Vietnam Competition Authority, the new law has some major changes compared with the old one, in which, the most important is that the new bill expands the adjustment scope and the objects subjected to the law’s jurisdiction for competitive practices both within and outside the territory of Vietnam when such acts cause or threaten to have an adverse impact on competition in the Vietnamese market.
According to Tran Phuong Lan, Head of the Economic Concentration Control Department under the Vietnam Competition Authority, the new law has some major changes compared with the old one.
Taking the M&A case for the BigC supermarket chain by Thai Central Group as an example, Lan said that when the Thai group bought BigC Vietnam 2016, many businesses providing products to BigC raised concerns as the acquisition could have negatively affected their previously signed contracts.
In this case, although there were many potential pitfalls for the domestic market and retailers supplying BigC, it was difficult for the Vietnamese agencies concerned to take measures to deal with the case following regulations under the old competition law, as the transaction took place outside the territory of Vietnam.
"However, with the new law, similar acts will be dealt with in accordance with the Competition Law 2018’s jurisdiction,” Lan affirmed, adding that the Vietnamese competition authorities could coordinate with foreign partners to conduct investigations into enterprises abroad.
Another new point in the revised law is that enterprises have the right to compete freely in accordance with the law and that the government guarantees their legitimate competition rights. Competitive activities shall be conducted on the principles of honesty and fairness without infringing upon the interests of the State, enterprises and consumers.
In addition, the new law does not ban economic concentration when the combined market share of enterprises participating in the economic concentration reaches more than 50%, as stipulated in the old law. In contrast, the 2018 law only prohibits businesses from conducting economic concentration when it is likely to have an adverse impact on the market.
Phung Van Thanh, Deputy Head of the Department of Investigation of Anti-Competitive Behaviour, under the Vietnam Competition Authority, shares about the new changes in the law. Photo: NDO/Trung Hung
Giving further information on the new law, Phung Van Thanh, Deputy Head of the Department of Investigation of Anti-Competitive Behaviour, under the Vietnam Competition Authority, said that the new competition law does not permit the agreement to remove from the market the parties that are not involved in the agreement.
In addition, when the competition authorities find out any violation that reaches a certain serious level, they can transfer the case to the investigation agency for criminal processing.
Because there are many new points, Nguyen Sinh Nhat Tan, Head of the Vietnam Competition Authority, recommended that enterprises thoroughly survey the new competition law to avoid any unnecessary violations.
According to him, contents related to the sanctions will be further discussed by the Drafting Committee to the law for modification in order to suit the practical situation to ensure the law enforcement for healthy competition to serve the nation’s economic development./.