A PYMNTS Company

ICN Steering Group Statement: Competition During And After The COVID-19 Pandemic

 |  April 10, 2020

• The ICN recognizes the unprecedented health, social, and economic challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Competition agencies face new challenges in continuing their enforcement missions, due to the impact of COVID-19 on their work and the need to maintain the health and safety of their employees.

• Competition benefits consumers and economies by ensuring lower prices and new and better products and services. The application of competition law remains vital in a period when companies and the economy suffer from crisis conditions.

• The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted concerns that, while most businesses will act responsibly, some businesses might respond with anti-competitive conduct, e.g., by cartelizing or abusing a dominant position. It is of utmost importance to ensure that products and services remain available at competitive prices, especially those that are essential to urgent public health needs in the current situation, like medical supplies and equipment. Competition agencies intend to remain vigilant against anti-competitive mergers or conduct during this crisis.

• This extraordinary situation may trigger the need for competitors to cooperate temporarily in order to ensure the supply and distribution of scarce products and services that protect the health and safety of all consumers. Such joint efforts, if limited in scope and duration necessary to assist those affected by COVID-19, and in line with applicable laws or specific guidance from authorities, may be a necessary response to protect consumers and provide products or services that might not be available otherwise. It can be appropriate for competition agencies to accommodate collaboration between competitors necessary to address the circumstances of the crisis to the extent that their laws permit…