A draft Competition Bill and its accompanying policy is ready for urgent consideration by Cabinet and is set to be aligned with the Competition protocol under the second phase negotiations of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Minister for Trade and Industry (MoTI), Mr. Alan Kyerematen has revealed.
This was during a three-day consultative National Conference held in Accra this week on protocols and measures needed to be implemented to safeguard the next phase of the AfCFTA agreement.
“The fundamental issue is how do we align our Competition Law with the ECOWAS Competition Policy and the process of negotiating the Competition Protocol in the second phase of the AfCFTA agreement when it is finally approved by Cabinet and passed by Parliament?”, Mr. Kyerematen queried.
The purpose of instituting Competition Law is to protect, maintain and develop free, fair and equal competition in the market space by making it illegal for businesses to abuse a dominant market position. Having such a regime will also ban anti- competitive agreements between firms who have instituted agreements to fix prices or to carve up markets.
This measure will enable for instance, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to have a level playing field to be able to compete with their multinational business counterparts. Fair competition legislation will encourage enterprise efficiency, create wider choice for consumers reduce prices and improve the quality of products in the market.
With the absence of this law, some businesses engage in restrictive trade practices such as bid-rigging, price-fixing and abuse of dominance; and when these occur, consumers do not receive optimal value propositions.
Its passage is seen as critical to the various implementing parties in the sense that Ghana has to meet the December 2020 deadline for implementation of the second phase of the AfCFTA agreement of which the Competition Law is listed as the second out of the three protocols set to be implemented to safeguard the next phase of the agreement.
Currently the competition legislation on the continent is not sufficient, according to the AU. For instance, 23 African countries have competition laws enforced with “competent authorities”, but 17 have no competition laws in place, while 10 have instituted competition laws, but have no authority to enforce them. Four countries have competition laws in advanced state of preparation.
Competition brings about better competitors in the global markets, more choices for consumers, better quality products, lower prices and more innovations.
The conference was designed to focus the country’s collective efforts on specific actions and policies needed to be taken in Ghana to implemented the agreement. The theme was on Harnessing the Benefits of the AfCFTA for a Ghana Beyond Aid.