BRICS Competition authorities must move swiftly to address the unique issues thrown up by new age areas such as Artificial Intelligence, biotech and the gig economy, Manoj Govil, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said on Friday.

Delivering the valedictory address at the 8th BRICS International Competition Conference (ICC) in the capital, Govil said this was needed as these sectors are becoming increasingly influential in the global economy. He also emphasised that the competition issues of these sectors need to be addressed without stifling their growth potential.

Apart from the challenges emanating from digital platforms, emerging sectors such as AI, biotechnology and gig economy do pose enormous challenges for competition law enforcers, he said. 

These sectors have no established regulatory framework making it difficult to address anti-trust concerns effectively, Govil noted.

“Balancing promotion of innovation and prevention of monopolistic practices is a very delicate task in these sectors”, he said. 

Govil highlighted that the world is changing fast on the back of rapid technological advancements coupled with the proliferation of digital markets. Competition authorities are expected to design new and novel instruments to tackle the issues. 

Competition law and policy faces numerous challenges in the rapidly evolving landscape, he said.

Digital revolution has transformed the way business is conducted, giving rise to digital giants that wield immense market power. 

A major difficulty authorities face is about defining the boundaries of competition in these markets, ensuring fair competition in digital markets. Network effects and data access can often create insurmountable barriers to entry, he added.

A variety of approaches are being tried by different regulators. 

Fostering collaboration and cooperation among the BRICS Competition authorities on this front will have proven positive outcomes, he said.

Digital competition law

Govil said that a MCA appointed panel is currently deliberating the issues around digital competition law and need for an ex ante approach for regulating digital markets. 

By imposing obligations on dominant digital platforms, ex ante regulations may require transparency, non discrimination to provide a level playing field to both incumbents and potential competitors.

Standing Committee on Finance had in December 2022 recommended the enactment of a Digital Competition Act to ensure fair, transparent and contestable digital ecosystem.

Meanwhile, a joint statement, signed by the heads of BRICS competition authorities, acknowledges the importance of continuing to share information, experience and best practices to strengthen enforcement capabilities and promote fair competition practices within BRICS jurisdictions.