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Small and developing competition agencies – UMANA - IDB – December 2017 OECD discussion


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This presentation by Mario Umaña of the Inter-American Development Bank was made during Break-out Session 1: Advocacy in the framework of the discussion on “Overcoming adversity and attaining success: Small and developing competition agencies” held at the 16th meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Competition on 8 December 2017. More papers and presentations on the topic can be found out at

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Small and developing competition agencies – UMANA - IDB – December 2017 OECD discussion

  1. 1. Promoting competition advocacy with limited resources The challenge of small/young Competition Authorities Mario A Umaña Lead Competition Specialist IDB OECD Global Forum on Competition Paris, December 8th, 2017
  2. 2. Challenges • Competition policy is (not the elephant) the cinderella in the room • Can you really promote a competition culture with little resources? • Paradox: Agencies need to show results to get more budget, and more budget to show results • Advocacy is not a priority (generally speaking)
  3. 3. Why are resources a challenge for small/young agencies? • Birth defects: Most agencies in small developing jurisdictions are established with limited financial and human resources • Why? Political economy is not the best • Competition Policy normally not a major part of political campaigns (if any) • Not many active constituents pushing in favor (interest groups are more vocal than consumers) • Competition Policy not seen as a major economic policy tool by Cabinets • Despite potential benefits for productivity, fiscal gains and even social policy • Fiscal constraints in most jurisdictions • Competition Authorities are not supposed to generate income
  4. 4. Some lessons from agencies • Economics 101. Need to prioritize • Merger review get most of the agency’s scare resources • Advocacy
  5. 5. Specific actions in Advocacy • Sector studies in key areas/sectors that affect consumer’s pockets the most: • Medicines and health • Transport • Food • Pamphlets, cartoons/short films/ • Use of social media • Share responsibility with larger antitrust community • Frequent inexpensive fora and workshops (Case of Foro de Competencia in Argentina) • Identify gains from competition in easy/lay terms. Improve metrics • Use collective knowledge from ICN, Global Forum, LACCF, etc • Use multilateral institutions • Support training for Judges
  6. 6. Country size and Budget are correlated • Countries like Costa Rica, Uruguay, Nicaragua have budgets < than $1,000,000 • El Salvador $2,500,000 The real question is what is the minimum budget and what are the priorities?
  7. 7. Highest return to investment • Cartel enforcement • Advocacy could bring some low hanging fruits • Sector studies • Awareness campaigns, fora, workshops • Consultations