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Government to act on anti-competitive business practices

Trinidad and Tobago has joined more than 130 jurisdictions globally including Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana with the recent full proclamation of the Fair Trading Act. Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry in making the announcement on Wednesday 12 February, 2020, reiterated the importance of the milestone achievement. She said “the Fair Trading Commission, is now officially able to receive and investigate complaints and allegations of anti-competitive conduct in Trinidad and Tobago and deliver findings in respect of same”. She added that the Commission is better able to fulfil its mission to protect, promote and maintain free and fair competition in the conduct of business in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Trade and Industry Minister noted that the proclamation signals the Government’s ongoing efforts through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to create a fair and free competitive environment for business activity with emphasis on sustainable growth and development. She said “the Government is committed to supporting efforts to promote and maintain competition, which at times may include challenging anti-competitive business practices to ensure that consumers have access to quality goods and services and; businesses can compete on merit”. Minster Gopee-Scoon acknowledged the concerns raised by stakeholders with regard to alleged anti-competitive practices in Trinidad and Tobago, and gave the assurance that, the Fair Trading Commission will be working to address those concerns.

Dr Ronald Ramkisson, Chairman, Fair Trading Commission in his address stated that the legislation reflects a commitment to ensuring a fairer and more competitive business environment. He indicated that the legislation deals with major issues such as the abuse of monopoly power; anti-competitive mergers and anti-competitive agreements while at the same time providing for the enforcement of the relevant clauses or enforcement measures. Dr Ramkisson expressed confidence that the Fair Trading Commission is committed to promoting fair competition and challenging anticompetitive business practices wherever these are identified thus helping to ensure that businesses are able to compete on a fair and level playing field and consumers have access to quality goods and services.

Ms Franka Costelloe, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association a private sector partner, noted that the Act will strengthen regulation that will improve the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago and enhance our competitiveness domestically and internationally. The fair competitive environment, she said strengthens the country’s entrepreneurship market and encourages business growth creation.

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