Thursday, 28 Jun 2012
Hong Kong: Legislators Passed Hong Kong’s First Competition Bill – June 2012
British Consulate General Hong Kong
Hong Kong passed its first Competition Bill on 14 June. The bill, which has been under discussion since as far back as the early 1990s, aims to provide a legal framework to counter anti-competitive conduct. The passage of the bill has been cautiously welcomed by the public and businesses alike.
The Government welcomed legislators’ passage of the bill on Thursday 14 June. the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Bureau Greg So said “the passage of the Competition Bill is a major milestone in the development of competition policy in Hong Kong, signifying the determination of the Government in maintaining fair and free competition in the market.”
During the consultation process, discussions focused on effective implementation of the bill and its potential financial impact on SMEs. The government made two sets of concessions, eventually raising the exemption thresholds to protect almost 98% of Hong Kong’s SMEs from the bill. In addition, Hong Kong’s 582 statutory bodies are exempt. The government said the new legislation will be implemented in phases and that it will be willing to make adjustments if necessary. Some expect the law will not take effect until as late as 2014, after the new Competition Commission and a tribunal to review complaints are set up.
Whilst the passing of the bill is generally welcomed by the public and business, most remained cautious.Commercially, the bill may have an impact on a broad range of local businesses such as book publishers (especially those who provide textbooks to local schools), property developers, retailing business such as supermarkets and their suppliers. Whilst some commentators argue that the new legislation help new players break into Hong Kong’s markets, which in many areas are controlled by one or two big players, others suggest that the bill to be watered down such that it will have little impact.
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