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Mitchell, Arthur "Competition Law Workshop" [2005] ADBLPRes 4 (21 March 2005)

Competition Law Workshop

Introductory Comments
Arthur M. Mitchell
General Counsel
Asian Development Bank

ADB Auditorium
21 March 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen; Distinguished Guests,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this workshop on competition policy and law. Competition law in many ways is at the heart of the economic development process. In the absence of competitive economic environment, new investments are inhibited, technological innovation is curbed and consumer welfare is greatly reduced.

As a financial institution supporting economic development in Asia, ADB naturally shares an interest in this field. A number of our developing member countries, including the People’s Republic of China, have turned to us for support as they consider how to effect new competition laws in the wake of changing economic circumstances. I am pleased to report that we have now entered into a Technical Assistance Agreement with the Government of the People’s Republic of China to work on developing the forthcoming laws governing competition and fair trade in the PRC.

Competition law and policy also needs to be considered in our daily routine of investment choices and policy making at ADB. Every loan or equity investment or guarantee provided by the Bank must be examined in the context of its competition impact. Our policy advise must search for ways to overcome barriers to competition. Sometimes the choices are tough ones -- should our commitment to competition policy override an urgent need for providing state aid in an economically backward part of a country where state aid can possibly jump start wider economic development? How do we execute competition laws when the immediate impact may be retrenchment of workers for whom no alternative livelihood is available? The fact that we may have to face tough choices does not in any way relieve us from our responsibility to examine each case fully.

Over the next day and half, we will have an opportunity to review the latest global developments in competition law with one of the leading international experts in the field, Professor Richard Whish of King’s College in England. Professor Whish is also joined by Ken Danger from OECD Paris and Celine Teh from Microsoft Corporation.

We are delighted that you could all be here to help us with this important task. In addition to the ADB staff, among the participants are also invited guests from various departments of the Philippines Government who must face issues of competition in their regulatory and administrative work.

Your participation will help us match the ideas and the principles of competition law with the realities of overseeing economic issues in a developing country. We look forward to a lively exchange of ideas from the floor.

Thank you for taking the time to join us.

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