KZKOn the occasion of the Competition Day, the Commission for Protection of Competition organized the international conference on New Competition Agenda.
The conference was opened with keynote addresses presented by President of the Commission for Protection of Competition Dr. Miloje Obradović, Rasim Ljajić, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Nikola Selaković, Secretary General of the President of the Republic of Serbia, H.E. Sem Fabrizi, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, and H.E. Junichi Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to Serbia. The event was also attended by Branko Ružić, Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

This year’s Honorable Guest of the conference was Japan
KZKIn his address to the numerous guests of the conference, President of the Commission for Protection of Competition Dr. Miloje Obradović said that in the recently published EC Progress Report on Serbia, as an overview of progress achieved towards EU accession, the soundness of objectives set by the Commission are acknowledged. The Report notes the improvements made in terms of competition policy implementation, credibility and public image, as well as enhanced level of competition advocacy.

“The Commission therefore took the initiative of establishing the Western Balkans Forum of Competition Authorities in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, aimed at contributing to more efficient delivery of operational activities of our authorities and enabling improved perspective and functioning of our regional markets, towards advancing business environment. Through regional cooperation, we demonstrate our ability to take common actions in various fields, and in this case in the field of competition policy, which can boost the entire region towards achieving EU standards and European cooperation practices”, Obradović said.

Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia Rasim Ljajić reminded the audience of the interdependence between competition and efficient markets. Anticipated soon opening of the discount store chain Lidl in Serbia is given as a practical example of contributing factor to the competition. He also said that the functioning of Serbia’s telecom market is the best example of benefits brought about by efficient competition, indicating on three big companies “fighting” for each consumer on this market.
“We commend the efforts placed on creating equal opportunities for all, where market success is then achieved by own competences. From the market perspective, a level playing field is an important factor. We perceive the state as an unbiased judge that should only be present to give penalty cards for fouls and misconducts. It shouldn’t affect the outcome of the game, but secure an equal treatment for all involved”, Ljajić concluded.

Ljajić also reminded the audience that the most visible part of competition, from a consumer perspective, is the final price displayed in stores
Secretary General of the President of the Republic of Serbia Nikola Selaković pointed that the Commission is perceived as an immune response for a society in transition, foremost responsible for safeguarding the national economy and entrepreneurs from disparities exposed on regional or international markets.

In his words, in less than 12 years, the Commission managed to find its place “shoulder to shoulder” with other “more older” independent authorities and became an indispensable factor in implementing the policy framework for achieving market efficiency. Selaković also underlined that the Commission for Protection of Competition must have a full operational independence similar to the one given to the Administrative Court and National Bank of Serbia.
“Compliance with competition rules at all times and everywhere, also during the times of fiscal consolidation and other unpopular measures, is of paramount importance so that such measures would not become an excuse for anticompetitive practices of undertakings and a cover for collusive behaviors and the creation of cartels or abuses of dominance”, Selaković underlined.

Referencing the EC Progress Report, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Serbia Sem Fabrizi said that Serbia has achieved a good progress in the matter of antitrust rules and is moderately prepared for the EU accession in terms of competition policy.
He underlined that Serbia has considerably converged its national competition regulations with EU acquis, as an area that falls within the exclusive competence of the Commission.

Competition policy is one of the essential elements or tools governing a country towards the EU common market, which is according to Fabrizi one of the strengths of the Union, considering the annual trade of 18 billion euro, with half a billion citizens and the largest and most advanced rule-driven common market worldwide, including rules governing competition.

Fabrizi reminded the audience that in the last 15 years, the European Union has granted 4.6 million euro assistance for the development of the CPC’s technical capacities, while a new project worth 1 million euro will start on June 1, with the assistance of the Italian Competition Authority.

Japanese Ambassador Junichi Maruyama underlined the increasingly developing economic cooperation of the two countries, as well as growing interest of Japanese foreign investors in Serbia. He also commended the cooperation achieved between the Japan Fair Trade Commission and the Serbian Commission.

Two panel discussions are organized as part of the conference: “New Agenda for the Region” and “Competition in the Digitalized World”.

KZKWithin the first panel discussion “New Agenda for the Region”, facilitated by CPC President Dr. Miloje Obradović, heads of regional competition authorities touched upon challenges encountered in their attempts to secure a level playing field for all undertakings. Presidents of the competition authorities of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey participated in the panel, as well as Ms. Camelia Grozea – Knuth, EC policy officer in charge of Negotiation Chapter 8.

Nikolas Banašević from the EC Directorate-General for Competition facilitated the second panel focused on the topic “Competition in the Digitalized World”, and discussed with other participants about emerging challenges in the light of new digital technologies and new operating models of competition authorities. The panelists were professor Hassan Qaqaya, former Head of the UNCTAD Competition and Consumer Policies Branch, Kazuhiro Hara, Director of International Affairs Division, Japan Fair Trade Commission, Dr. Siniša Milošević, Head of the CPC Economic Analysis Division, Laszlo Gyerko, member of the Board of the Romanian Competition Council, and Željko Tomić, NALED representative and founder of company „Osa računarski inžinjering“.

KZKDuring the conference, CPC President Dr. Miloje Obradović and Mr. Omer Torlak, President of the Turkish Competition Authority, signed the Memorandum on Cooperation in the Field of Competition Policy between the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia and the Turkish Competition Authority.

The conference was attended by numerous officials of all state institutions, regulatory authorities, scientific institutions, as well as representatives of chambers of commerce and industry, law offices and business associations.