Regulator warns of unfair trade with more mergers

Regulator warns of unfair trade with more mergers

Business operators are likely to apply for more mergers and acquisitions (M&A) this year to enhance their competitiveness, resulting in greater market dominance or unfair trade practices by large operators, warns the trade competition regulator.

Sakon Varanyuwatana, chairman of the Trade Competition Commission of Thailand, said that given such prospects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will find it hard to compete.

"It is a key challenge for the commission to determine the direction of trade competition regulations to ensure free and fair competition for the benefit of the country," he said.

Mr Sakon predicted the local economy would grow slightly this year, but still feel the pinch from a weak global economy battered by the Covid-19 crisis, which has resulted in wider inequality, particularly for SMEs.

Rapid tech transformations in the digital economy and wider deployment of artificial intelligence in businesses have pushed operators towards e-commerce platforms, he said.

This year the commission is focusing on regulating e-commerce platforms of all kinds, which have expanded rapidly by providing efficient service to customers in a cashless economy.

Another area of emphasis is M&As, particularly as tech mergers are increasing, as well as promoting and creating opportunities for SMEs to compete more effectively, said Mr Sakon.

He said e-commerce platforms including e-marketplaces, e-logistics, food delivery and online travel agencies were valued at about 4 trillion baht in 2021 and most operators are large overseas firms.

Mr Sakon said the commission is developing methods of regulating trade competition in other areas to enable it to more effectively and rapidly manage businesses in the digital economy, even as formats evolve quickly.

The commission vows to improve the existing trade competition law, trade practices and other regulations, while seeking more cooperation with foreign agencies to foster fair trade competition, he said.

The regulator is also developing technology and building large databases as tools to analyse market structures and trade competition behaviour for the rapid and efficient supervision of trade competition.

A Business Intelligence Unit has been set up to develop Thai trade competition in a positive direction, as well as foster a good trade competition environment, according to Mr Sakon.

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