5th Annual Asia-Pacific Law Leaders Forum

5th Annual Asia-Pacific Law Leaders Forum

03 – 04 March 2016, 9:15 – 15:20

Maxwell Chambers, Singapore

On 3 – 4 March 2016, the conference “5th Annual Asia-Pacific Law Leaders Forum” will be held in Maxwell Chambers, Singapore with participations of leading lawyers across the region. The conference promises lively debate about recent enforcement developments and ongoing challenges in the region, as well as informative presentations by senior government regulators and expert in-house and outside counsel.

Dr Nguyen Anh Tuan, Partner, head of Competition practice at LNT & Partners will speak at the conference in the “Discussion on competition law in practice in the ASEAN region from practitioners’ perspective” session.

For more information and registration, please visit the official website

Click here for conference’s agenda: Conference schedule 2016.

 Vietnam Law Insight

Asian Competition Forum 11th Annual Conference – Vietnam Law Insight

Asian Competition Forum 11th Annual Conference – Due Process and Transparency in Competition Law in Asia

30 November 2015 – 01 December 2015, 9:00 am5:00 pm (Save to cal)

Due Process and Transparency in Competition Law in Asia

This year’s ACF conference will look closely at issues of due process and transparency across competition regimes, a topic of substantial interest worldwide.

The Hong Kong Competition Ordinance coming into effect shortly after the conference takes place and, in addition, the recent passing of the Philippine Competition Act naturally raises questions as to due process and transparency in competition regulation in the Asian region. Furthermore, the business sector has consistently raised its concerns as to regulatory transparency in competition law. We will explore these issues and more at this year’s conference with a range of distinguished speakers including legal practitioners, economic experts and competition academics.

This year ACF is delighted to announce that The Honourable Chief Justice Robert Shenton French of the High Court of Australia will be our keynote speaker, drawing on his longstanding expertise to provide us with insight into the role of courts in competition law.

Dr Nguyen Anh Tuan, Partner, head of Competition practice at LNT & Partners will speak at the conference in the “Transparency and Due Process in Selected ASEAN Countries” session with a presentation  on “Comments from a Practical Perspective: Towards Procedural Transparency and Fairness in Vietnam’s Competition Regime”.

For more information and registration, please visit the official website. 

Registration for Delegates

Click here for conference’s agenda: Conference schedule 2015

 Vietnam Law Insight

 

5th ASEAN Competition Conference: “Advancing Competition Policy and Law Post-2015”

5th ASEAN COMPETITION CONFERENCE:
“Advancing Competition Policy and Law Post-2015: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges”

The 5th ASEAN Competition Conference will be held from 4-5 June 2015 at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers (Ballrooms 1-2, 3rd floor) located at No. 88 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

The year 2015 marks an important milestone for ASEAN on its journey towards deeper economic integration through the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). ASEAN Member States (AMS) have increased their efforts to put into place key measures to enhance the trade and investment climate while strengthening the legal frameworks for competition, consumer protection and intellectual property rights. In line with the commitments under the AEC Blueprint, seven AMS have enacted competition laws; six have already set up a dedicated competition agency, with the remaining countries expected to follow suit by 2016. Efforts are on-going to develop a regional cooperation framework that will – in the long run – allow for greater cooperation in the handling of cross-border competition cases.

The imminent realisation of the AEC 2015 calls for a closer look at the scope and state of ASEAN integration, as well as its implications for businesses and consumers. The challenges are multi-fold: How can economic potentials presented by the larger market of the AEC be unlocked? The private sector and civil society are aware of ASEAN but more work is required to enhance their understanding so that they can take advantage of the new opportunities. How can ASEAN meet the expectations and promises associated with an AEC in 2015? What are the perspectives – and potential challenges – for competition policy in this context?

As ASEAN works out its comprehensive post-2015 vision, it will be important to be mindful and realistic about communicating what the AEC 2015 means and entails. The formal establishment of the AEC 2015, with its single market and production base, will ultimately put the compliance of Member States with regional commitments to the test: effective integration does not only rely on intensified regional cooperation, but also requires continued regulatory reforms and institutional development in the Member States. This is particularly relevant when it comes to promoting fair competition in ASEAN.

The ASEAN Competition Conference (ACC) series is the flagship annual event spearheaded by the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC). It was first convened in 2011 in Bali, Indonesia, and has since become an important platform for reaching out to a broader public and inform about recent developments as well as share best practices in Competition Policy and Law (CPL) in ASEAN.

Competitive Neutrality – Maintaining a Level Playing Field between Public and Private Business

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Tuan Nguyen from LNT & Partners is giving a speech on “Competitive Neutrality – Maintaining a Level Playing Field between Public and Private Business” session at the conference. This session will shed light on the concept of competitive neutrality which is gaining ground in international discussions and essentially entails that the same set of rules applies to public and private businesses. With the objective of safeguarding efficiency, this serves to ensure that business activities by the government do not have competitive advantage over private businesses, simply by virtue of government ownership or control. However, in practice, many competition agencies across the world are faced with considerable challenges, for example when it comes to a lack of transparency in public procurement. The session will address some of the main issues surrounding competition policy vis-à-vis state-owned enterprises (SOEs) or what is sometimes called “government-linked monopolies”. It will share selected national good practices promoting competitive neutrality, among others from the work of OECD and UNCTAD’s Research Partnership Platform.

For more information and register for the conference, please go the event website: http://acc5.info/

About the speaker: Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan

Dr. Anh Tuan Nguyen leads the firm’s Competition and Bio-Pharmaceutical specialty group. This specialty group has broad practical experience in antitrust and unfair competition matters, including compliance training and the review of contractual arrangements, corporate restructuring, advertising and market entry strategies, along with specific experience in dispute settlement relating to competition claims. Multinational companies in the pharmaceutical, FMCG and consumer goods industries regularly seek Dr. Nguyen’s expert advice in matters concerning importation, distribution, sales and competition. Dr Nguyen is recognized by the legal community as one of the few qualified competition law experts in Vietnam who has an in-depth understanding of international antitrust regulations and their application under the Vietnamese Competition Law. In 2014, his specialty group received recognition from Finance Monthly as Antitrust/Competition Law Firm of the Year. He is one of firm’s co-founders.

For more information and register for the conference, please go the event website: http://acc5.info/

If you have any question regarding to the Conference, please do not hesitate to contact 1. Ms. Tran Thi Minh Phuong Mobile: +94 9127 38 230 Email: phuongttm@moit.gov.vn 2. Ms. Vu Thi Thanh Mai Mobile: +94 9361 085 33 Email: maivth@moit.gov.vn

Vietnam Competition Annual Report 2014

On 02 April 2015, the Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA) published the annual report of 2014 on its website (the Report), drawing a panorama of the Vietnamese competition activities during the year.

From a  legal perspective, the Report produced an overview on the subject matters of three new legal instruments enacted in 2014 governing competition activities e.g. Decree No. 42/2014/ND-CP and Circular 24/2014/TT-BCT on administration of the multi-level selling of goods; and Decree 71/2014/ND-CP on penalties for breaches in competition sector. Furthermore, in 2014 there were two international treaties containing competition regulations executed including the Vietnam – Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan Free Trade Agreement, and Korea – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

Regarding the practical context of competition, the Report furnished an analysis of the enforcement of competition laws and policies particularly in 2014 and generally in the period from 2006 and 2014. Upon the comparison between 2014 and the whole period, it is clearly stated that there is a downturn in the number of activities that breach the laws on competition pertaining to two sectors; restraint of competition, and activities of unfair competition that have been investigated and had a penalty imposed. This data could be considered as a promising sign of the development of a fair and competitive business environment in Vietnam.

With regard to the global factors e.g. the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community, and the execution of a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements together with domestic factors i.e. the re-structuring of the Vietnamese economy, the competition between the entities is forecasted to intensify. The breach of competition is foreseen to be conducted in more sophisticated methods. Additionally, the economic concentration of transactions shall increase in number.

Below is the link to the Report on VCA’s website:

http://www.vca.gov.vn/uploads/file/2015/04_02/VCA%20Annual%20Report%202014-Vn-0204.pdf

The Law on Price

On 6/20/2012, the National Assembly voted to adopt the Law on Price (the “LOP”) in response to the public demand for an effective legal framework to control price manipulation from dominant enterprises such as gasoline, electricity, etc.

The law will take effect from 01/01/2013 and repeal Ordinance No. 40/2002/PL-UBTVQH10 dated 26/4/2002 of the National Assembly Standing Committee (the “Ordinance“), which is conceived as outdated and containing certain provisions contravening the WTO’s regulation. This article describes the main features of the law and provides some insight into its potential impacts on the Vietnamese economy.

1. The purpose of the LOP

In the past when Vietnam was operating as a centrally-planned economy, the State controlled prices and outputs of enterprises and collectives by direct administrative orders. This price control mechanism has been gradually abolished since 1986 upon the introduction of the Renovation (“Doi moi”) policy, which set forth principles for the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam. However, at the beginning of the renovation process, the State was still indirectly regulating market prices by controlling the price of goods and services of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Later, as the privately owned enterprises become more significant in terms of quantity and contribution to the national economy there was the need to enact a legal framework for the State’s regulation of the market price. As a result, the Ordinance was passed in response to such demand.

However, during 10 years of its enforcement, the Ordinance was unable to provide an efficient legal mechanism that would control the price of commodities and essential goods in the markets as its intended purpose. Consequently, due to a lack of competition in the markets, particularly with those dominated by the SOEs such as gasoline, telecommunication and civil aviation, consumers have to suffer allegedly unreasonable prices set by the market players. As such, while the intended purpose is to meet the requirements of innovation management practices, in line with the price mechanism of the market economy and encourage price competition, whilst ensuring the role of prices in the economic market mechanism, the LOP has established a means for state intervention that will stabilize prices of certain goods and services.

2. Remarkable features of the LOP

The law has abolished some previous contents of the Ordinance that have been adjusted in the specialized legislation, such as regulations on anti-dumping and monopoly control. These are also specified in the Ordinance on Anti-dumping of imported products in to Vietnam and Law on Competition. In addition, the LOP removed price stabilization measures which are impractical and contravening the WTO’s requirement, such as subsidiary for agricultural products.

The LOP also inserts important principles in the management of the State in Article 5, under which the State will manage the market price mechanism (Item 1) and regulate prices under the LOP, to review the implementation of price stabilization (Item 2). Such regulations have significantly limited the scope and manner of state intervention in pricing decisions of the business. Particularly, the State will only be permitted measures to stabilize prices for the goods as stipulated in Article 15.2 and determine prices for goods and services as specified in Article 19.3. Accordingly, goods and services subject to price stabilization are those essential to production and human lives that are prescribed in two criteria; namely (a) raw materials, fuel, materials and services for production and circulation; and (b) goods and services that meet the basic needs of human sustenance.

Meanwhile, the State will determine the price or set a price limit for (a) goods and services under a state monopoly in sectors of production and business; (b) important natural resources; and (c) national reserve, products, services and public service industry using the state budget. These goods specified in Article 19 of the law include land lease, electricity supply and communication services. In the case that items must be added or to stabilize prices, the Government must submit to the National Assembly Standing Committee for approval.

According to Article 16, the State may only carry out the price stabilization measure when (a) the price of goods and services on the list specified in Article 15.2 of the law show abnormal fluctuations; or (b) the modified price level affects economic and social stability. Although clarification is required to establish which circumstances constitutes as affecting the economic and social stability, the provision creates an essential framework for limiting the scope of the state management of pricing, based on which consumers and businesses can capture and predict the adjustment measures of the State when prices fluctuate in the market. In addition, the LOP stipulates relatively specific methods to stabilize prices (Article 17) as well as the principles and basis for price valuation (Articles 21 and 22).

3. Does the LOP truly meet the market demand?

While the provisions of the Ordinance could hardly play the role of the price controller, the efficiencies as well as necessity of the LOP remain a valid question. From an economic perspective, the abolition of the Price Ordinance is necessary, however replacing it by the LOP seem to go against basic principles of market economy which is operating under the laws of supply and demand where businesses are the price takers. To ensure that the markets function efficiently and stable, the State can utilize a variety of instruments such as the macro fiscal policy, monetary and removal of natural barriers, technical barriers for businesses to enter and exit from the market as opposed to the direct intervention of price determination of businesses through administrative measures, such as providing the specific price, maximum and minimum price or price brackets for the goods and services not under State monopoly.

If these measures are not executed under strict control, this will lead to state pricing decisions for the business as the centrally-planned economy. Furthermore, if the state controls only the output price of particular items and does not guarantee the price of inputs (such as materials, fuel, forwarding, etc.) then businesses will face the risk of losses as production costs are not covered by the stated price.

Meanwhile, if the State implements other measures to encourage healthy competition such as removing barriers, reducing transaction costs for businesses, then these would be a more efficient form of management in terms of price. Since the enterprises will be permitted to compete for profits and establish prices that most consumers will accept to maintain and expand markets. This has been proven when the government implemented an open door policy for the importation of motorcycles, the telecommunication services, etc. Consumers benefit directly from cost of goods and services dropped quickly due to fierce competition between manufacturers and suppliers. Similarly, in the field of pharmaceuticals, if the foreign investors are granted the right to import and distribute drugs directly to Vietnam markets, drug prices can be much lower by reduction of transactional cost. Thus, by removing the technical barriers, the State has created conditions for the free market economy adjusting its defects.

It can be seen that the issuance of the LOP partially meets the expectations of consumers in the establishment of management mechanisms, regulate prices of some essential commodities in daily life and production; the law enforcement needs to be performed carefully and selectively to avoid the abuse of state administrative measures to intervene directly in business activities of enterprises.

By Vietnam Law Insight, LNT & Partners.

Disclaimer: This Briefing is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as detailed advice in individual cases. For more information, please contact us or visit the website: Http://LNTpartners.com