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Singapore competition watchdog seeks views on proposed updates to guidelines

THE Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) is inviting public feedback on several proposed changes to six sets of its guidelines on the Competition Act.

These changes aim to provide more clarity and guidance to businesses and competition practitioners on the analytical and procedural frameworks used by CCCS in applying the Act, the watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.

The guidelines were last revised in December 2016.

Among the latest proposed changes is an update to give more clarity on the interface between intellectual property and competition law.

The commission is also looking to better guide businesses, consumers and competition practitioners on issues relating to the assessment of mergers.

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In particular, based on its market study on e-commerce platforms, CCCS wants to clarify the assessment of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) where one or more of the firms are important innovators that may change competitive dynamics even if they do not have a large market share.

The M&As in question may also involve firms that operate in different product markets, that is, conglomerate mergers, CCCS said.

In addition, it has proposed to update the guidelines to provide greater clarity on issues related to market definition that may be relevant in the digital era, such as for multi-sided e-commerce platforms, as well as assess market power and abuse of dominance.

These proposed changes to the guidelines will ensure markets remain open and contestable, CCCS added.

The closing date to submit feedback is Oct 8, 2020.

Before launching the public consultation, the commission had reviewed the guidelines, taking into account the amendments made to the Act in 2018, the findings from its e-commerce platforms market study and changes to the broader legal landscape, among other things.

Separately, in another statement on Thursday, CCCS noted that based on industry feedback, it did not identify any current major competition concerns involving e-commerce platforms in Singapore.

Its e-commerce market study also found that consumers check multiple platforms for better offers, and consider both price and non-price factors in deciding which platform to use.

CCCS recommended e-commerce platforms to continue to enhance their measures to protect consumers against unfair practices.

It noted that some platforms have done so, such as by putting in place a non-compliance points system to discourage sellers from making misleading claims about the price or nature of goods, or having features to protect buyers against defective goods or non-delivery.

E-commerce platforms should also consider raising sellers' awareness and understanding of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and encourage sellers to adopt good trade practices, CCCS said.

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