Home / News / India /  CCI to set up digital market unit to assess big tech behaviour

Competition Commission of India (CCI) will set up a digital market unit (DMU) to better understand and assess the conduct of e-commerce platforms and other digital economy firms so that any anti-competitive behaviour of new age businesses do not go undetected by the regulatory framework, senior officials said on Saturday.

CCI Chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta said, “In view of the increasing number of cases and complexity in the digital sector and the increasing need for data and technology skills, we are now planning to set up a dedicated digital markets unit within CCI as a centre of expertise for digital markets." Kumar was speaking at the national conference on competition law held by the CCI and the ministry of corporate affairs as part of commemorating 75 years of independence.

The government is currently working on amendments to the Competition Act, which are likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament. These amendments are expected to update the law to better regulate digital economy firms.

As in the case of countries, the emergence of the digital markets has brought novel competition issues and concerns for India too, said Sangeeta Verma, member, CCI, who was also present on the occasion.

“These are new to our understanding and to our assessment frameworks. The sheer scale of transactions and transparency issues associated with digital markets add to the complexity. But our advantage is our Competition Act is quite flexible. It allows examination of most of the conduct that may raise a competition issue...We are building capabilities in the Commission through our case experience, market studies and a proposal to set up a dedicated digital market unit, training programmes and extensive dialogues with competition regulators in other countries," Verma said.

Ashok Kumar Gupta said the average time taken by the regulator for clearing mergers and acquisitions is only 17 working days. In over 900 deals reviewed so far by CCI, remedies—modifications to the transaction to ensure that the combined entity does not adversely affect competition in the market—were ordered only in 22 cases or 2% of overall cases. These were the cases where inquiry demonstrated harm to competition, he said.

“We firmly believe that our balanced approach to regulation has resulted in a pro-market regulatory system that expeditiously facilitates synergetic transactions and combinations that have anti-competitive potential alone are subject to detailed review," said Kumar.

Gupta also said that about a fourth of all applications seeking approval for mergers and acquisitions are in the fast-track mode, or green channel, under which the regulator gives quick approvals. Increasingly, CCI will be conducting more market studies for better understanding of market structures and competition dynamics across critical sectors, said Gupta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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