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DTI, antitrust body to strengthen market competition in new partnership

The Philippine Competition Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, February 15, to ensure and strengthen the competitiveness of industries in the Philippine.

Photo by Anna Mogato/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) signed a memorandum of understanding to further strengthen the competition across all industries. 

Trade secretary Ramon Lopez on Friday, February 15, said the partnership with the PCC, which ensures proper information and data sharing between both parties, has been long overdue.  

The DTI will focus specifically on tracking "the way prices will behave," Lopez added. 

"It's important we share information on this," Lopez said, adding that they will collaborate if they see "peculiar behavior" happening in the trading of goods

This will help the PCC to further do its part in enforcing fair competition in the market, PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said during the press conference. 

"Part of our enforcement is the conduct of the issues papers, the industry papers, this will help us determine the competition issues [in any] industry," he added.

The PCC identified manufacturing as one of the key industries the partnership will focus on.

"This will involve getting information, sensitive information, kept by the industries and the agencies like Department of Trade and Industry. So with that cooperation, we should be able to complete the studies as fast as possible," he added.

Pressing issues

Among the issues both DTI and PCC will be dealing with are the dealings regarding the sugar industry, which Lopez said is more of a bigger interest for DTI's side. (READ: RHI Group to continue Nasugbu operations after antitrust body junks merger)

"The prices of sugar have always been an issue we raised... and why are prices behaving as such. Therefore, we really have to study further the industry structure and really find out if it’s controlled by a few players, selected importers," he added. 

In the meantime, the DTI is currently conducting a study on whether an additional fee can be imposed in case sugar importation has been liberalized

As the Philippines imports 90% of its sugar from Thailand, all inbound sugar will only be slapped with a 5% tariff due to the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement.

This is lower than the 35% tariff rate imposed on imported rice, a product which is due to have its importation deregulated

Lopez clarified that the fee can be a type of "floor price" which will be redirected to help sugarcane farmers improve their productivity.

"The idea is to have a free competition in the industry model," Lopez said.

"That’s our concern because the prices and the quality of the production would be better. If you have that and, of course, the PCC, then it can be assured there is competition (in the market)," Lopez added in a mix of English and Filipino.  Rappler.com