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Competition policy a priority

Financial Post, Daily edition, Tue 02 Jul 96

Although the Group of Seven deviated from its core agenda to talk about terrorism, the leaders of the major industrial nations did manage last week to focus their attention on key economic issues. An important example is the inclusion in the statement on economic policy of a message to the World Trade Organization's first ministerial conference in Singapore in December to widen its scope to cover competition policy.

As noted on this page a week ago, that is precisely the direction urged by the Global Forum for Trade and Competition Policy at its recent meeting in Vienna.

The plain fact is there is an overlap between trade and competition policy. It simply is not enough for the WTO to continue to pursue the reduction of tariff barriers if at the same time anti-competitive business practices restrict trade by, for example, erecting barriers to market access.

Indeed, as former trade minister Roy MacLaren told the global forum, governments can be under pressure from business to grant special treatment to compensate for the elimination of traditional barriers to trade. That special treatment often takes the form of barriers that should be dealt with under competition law.

That is why the the G7's recognition of the need for the WTO to address the issue of competition policy is encouraging. The global forum stressed the importance of harmonizing competition law and identified major principles that would provide a foundation for progress toward harmonization.

Just as Canadian competition-law authorities play a leading role in the global forum, so should Canada press the case for harmonization at the WTO ministerial meeting in Singapore.

This information is provided by the Financial Post.

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