South Africa signs cooperation agreements with Russia and Kenya
The attendees ranged from the SA Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, and the Commissioner of the Competition Commission, Tembinkosi Bonakele, to their Russian and Kenyan counterparts. Kenya Competition Authority director general Francis Kariuki emphasised the officials’ desire to remove barriers to trade. He was quoted as saying he looked forward to exchanging information on cross-border cartels, which affect both the South African and Kenyan economies: “We have regional economic communities and regional trade. There are some infractions in South Africa which are affecting Kenya and vice versa. We want to join hands to do market enquiries and do research. This will inform our governments when they come up with policies.”
Mister Patel’s keynote address showed the glass half-full and half-empty, focussing in part on the need to “scale” the South African agency activity up to the level of the “success story” of domestic competition enforcement and its large caseload (quoting 133 new cartel cases initiated in the past year).
Never one to omit politicisation, Mr. Patel noted the perceived parallels he saw between South African history of concentrating economic power in the hands of a minority, raising indirectly the issue of public-interest concessions made in antitrust investigations, including M&A matters. Mr. Patel clearly sees the SACC’s role as including a reduction in economic inequality among the populace, rather than being a neutral competition enforcer guided solely by internationally recognised legal antitrust & economic principles. Both he and Commissioner Bonakele drew parallels between their anti-cartel enforcement and a purported reduction in the SA poverty rate of a whopping four tenths of a percent.