South Africa gets new antitrust law

President signs competition amendment bill into law, but not all lawyers in the country are convinced.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Competition Amendment Bill, which will strengthen regulations against anti-competitive behaviour in industrial markets. However, local lawyers say they are still unclear about when and how the new law will be enforced.

First step
The bill, which was approved by the National Assembly in October 2018 and endorsed by the National Council of Provinces in December 2018, is offered as a step in the right direction for SMEs, economic inclusion and to open up the economy to fresh investment and innovation. The government says it also provides a clear mandate to the competition authorities to address economic concentration in a balanced manner and to promote economic transformation. A presidency statement said ‘the bill provides greater clarity to firms and investors on prohibited practices and what constitutes abuse of dominance. Another expected benefit is improved administrative efficiencies in the work of the competition authorities and facilitative powers to the executive.’ Additionally, the amended legislation seeks to combat concentration and economic exclusion as core challenges that contribute to slower and less dynamic growth, lower employment and greater inequalities, as well as socio-political conflict.

'More effective approach'

he Presidency said this will enable 'a more effective approach to concentration' with a focus on improving outcomes for small and black-owned business, and strengthen the institutions involved in managing competition policy and law. The statement explained, ‘these changes are in the long-term interest of both business and organised labour and benefit small to medium-sized companies through a pro-growth, transformation model that can help lift investment and advance economic inclusion.’ The signing ceremony took place at the Tuynhuys Chambers in Parliament. Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who campaigned fiercely for the bill's codification, joined the ceremony along with a group of stakeholders.

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