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Russia-Africa Summit Recommends Ensuring Food Security and Technology Transfer

The second Russia-Africa Summit has witnessed a meeting of antitrust agencies of African countries to discuss important topics related to antitrust regulation, challenges to regulating global digital monopolies, the role of antitrust agencies in ensuring global food and human security, and equitable participation of all countries in the global economy and access to technology.

Alexey Ivanov, Director of BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre, said that the antitrust law originally originated under conditions of uncertainty. In post-war Europe, in Russia during the transition to a market economy, in China with the beginning of the policy of reform and opening up, in South Africa after the fall of the apartheid regime and in Brazil with the end of the dictatorship, the adoption of antitrust laws helped the economic system to reach a new level of development. Now, in the context of global uncertainty, the question of the role of antitrust law arises again. Modern global monopolies can only be countered by the same global antitrust initiatives, which can only be realized in the interstate format, which is currently represented by BRICS+, to which the new members from African countries are also gravitating.” 

The initiative to establish a Commission on Competition and Consumer Welfare in Africa was further developed. It is the second attempt for regulators from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Gambia, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Zambia and the Commission (COMESA), which includes 21 other African countries, to agree to proceed with the establishment of a working group for cooperation. The working group will focus on the sectors of e-commerce, aggregation services (online travel agencies and online classifieds), matchmaking services (search services and social platforms – Google and Meta, as well as e-call and delivery services such as Uber and Glovo), digital advertising (search and social media), fintech and cybersecurity.

“To date, we have been working in a coordinated manner to harmonize antitrust regulation through bilateral, regional and international cooperation among 29 African states. Normally, it takes decades from the negotiation of agreements to the adoption of laws and the formation of regulatory institutions to control competition in the market, but we have managed to achieve significant results in just a few years. Today, it is important to continue developing this area, given the global nature of the challenges and the need to further deepen cooperation between competition authorities,” Hardin Ratshisusu, Deputy Commissioner, Competition Commission of South Africa, stated.

Another hot topic of discussion was the merger deal between Bunge and Viterra, an agribusiness giant with a strong presence in the markets of Brazil, South Africa and Egypt. The merger of the two companies may lead to imbalances in the international food market, including due to the establishment, if the deal is approved, of control over logistics in this area by the new player. This case made even more urgent the problem of developing infrastructure to detect and monitor cross-border cartel activity, which threatens not only direct economic costs, but also social and humanitarian risks.

“Cases of cross-border cartels and cartel collisions are difficult to both detect and investigate. This is due to the inconsistency and lack of universal norms on anti-corruption actions. One of the important principles of control over cross-border cartels should be the principle of extraterritoriality, allowing claims to be brought against the entire business structure of the offending company, not only against legal entities in a particular country. This will require a higher level of cooperation and trust between the antitrust services of individual countries,” said Mahmoud Momtaz, Chairperson of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA).

Ivanov said: “Today, market power is determined by control over big data. That is, companies are accumulating information, and a network effect is occurring. And today antitrust regulators can no longer ignore these facts and should actively conduct coordinated work in relation to global digital monopolies, including more active application of the network effect criterion.”