The Western Australian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with COMESA.
Colin Barnett signed the papers yesterday, January 31, 2014. COMESA dutifully posted a news release on its web site, albeit misspelling the W. Australian premier’s name (“Colin Barnnet“).
Setting aside the embarrassing PR SNAFU, we expect the MoU to have little to no effect on competition enforcement by the COMESA Competition Commission. The MoU appears to us to be primarily minerals-focussed (we note that this should come as no surprise, given the mineral-rich COMESA members and the fact that Western Australia is the world’s second-largest iron ore producer). The six so-called “thematic areas” of the MoU are: fiscal frameworks and mineral policy, strengthening human and institutional capacities, collection and management of geo-scientific information, research and development, environmental and social issues; and linkages, diversification and cluster development. Antitrust/competition is nowhere to be found.
That said, Western Australian companies may choose to invest more in the region and therefore somewhat increase the merger notification statistics, which have been lackluster to date.