The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb has called for strong collaboration between international regulators for complex mergers across jurisdictions.
At the keynote address for the International Chamber of Commerce/International Bar Association (ICC/IBA) Pre-International Competition Network (ICN) forum in Berlin, the chair noted that the sharing of information across international agencies led to more efficient investigations and reduced regulatory burden on businesses.
“The ACCC sees collaboration with our international counterparts as a key component of our effectiveness as a regulator,” said Cass-Gottlieb.
The chair added: “A competitive economy is critical to our collective future, so as much as possible we need to ensure any changes to the competitive landscape are temporary and limited to what is necessary.
“Each competition regulator will have their own individual approach to resolving issues in their local jurisdictions, but support between global partners only strengthens our ability to achieve a result that is satisfactory to all.”
Separately, the ACCC has also expressed concerns about online marketplaces, in its fourth report of the Digital Platforms Services Inquiry.
The report looked at Amazon Australia, Catch, eBay Australia and Kogan — four online retailers.
The ACCC expressed concerns over how products are ranked through the websites’ algorithms, use of consumer data, and inadequate dispute resolution processes, as well as a need for greater consumer protection.
“We have concerns about particular examples of self-preferencing by hybrid marketplaces in Australia, which mirror similar concerns raised by overseas regulators,” said Cass-Gottlieb.
Cass-Gottlieb called on the marketplaces to be more transparent with customers on how products are ranked.
“We are particularly concerned about so-called hybrid marketplaces,” said the chair, “Which sell their own products in competition with third-party sellers that use their platform. Hybrid marketplaces, like other vertically-integrated digital platforms, face conflicts of interest and may act in ways that advantage their own products with potentially adverse effects for third-party sellers and consumers.”
The ACCC expressed further concerns if one online marketplace were to become dominant in Australia, as is the case overseas.
In its fifth report, the ACCC is considering whether Australia needs new regulatory framework to address competition issues on digital platform services more broadly, which it flagged earlier this year.