Fair competition among businesses is a cornerstone of free trade and is vital to the economic development of a region, playing an important role in promoting growth, efficiency, and the alleviation of poverty. While some Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Member States have enacted their own laws on competition and consumer protection, others are yet to do so. This situation may lead to inconsistencies and uncertainties when businesses trading with several Member States expect similar practices throughout the Free Trade Area.
To prohibit unfair business practices and to promote competition and cooperation in the region, SADC signed a Declaration on Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies in September 2009. This declaration sets out a cooperation framework on competition policy for the SADC Free Trade Area that helps streamline international trade and support economic growth.
The Declaration on Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies
The Declaration on Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies is derived from Article 25 of the Protocol on Trade, which requires Member States to implement measures that foster competition and prohibit unfair business practices.
The Declaration on Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies provides a cooperation framework in the implementation of Member States’ respective laws. The Declaration encourages Member States to establish a transparent framework that contains appropriate safeguards to protect confidential information of the parties, and appropriate national judicial review. The SADC Secretariat strives to facilitate the establishment of competition authorities in those Member States that have no such institutions, and competition and consumer protection advocacy programmes.
To facilitate effective cooperation SADC Secretariat established a standing Competition and Consumer Policy and Law Committee, which is a forum that fosters cooperation and dialogue among competition authorities aimed at encouraging convergence of laws, analysis and common understanding.
Taking into account the development needs and existing commitments on competition policy of member States, the Competition and Consumer Policy and Law Committee has due regard to the United Nations Set of Principles and Rules on Competition as a basis for consensus building in international cooperation in competition policy.