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Can ASEAN Achieve a Single Market with National-Only Competition Law?

Eleanor Fox, The Regionalisation of Competition Law, Ong ed., Cambridge University Press forthcoming 2018

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This chapter is about ten Southeast Asian countries, their goal of economic integration through a common market, and their choice not to adopt a common antitrust (or competition) law and policy but to leave this to each of the Member States. The purpose of this chapter is to explore whether the absence of a common competition policy will defeat the goal of creating a single market, or whether the work that a common policy normally does can be achieved by other modalities.
The author examines the necessary conditions for achieving a single market, referencing EU law and less integrative models such as FTAs, bi-lateral agreements, and informal fora for convergence. She describes the varying political-economic characteristics of the ASEAN member states, which range from democratic to communist governments and feature much state and elite-family ownership and friendliness to industrial policy. She identifies obstacles to achieving a single market including gaps in coverage, conflicts, and lack of a central voice in defense of competition, and offers a roadmap of foundational principles critical to moving forward.
The article concludes that single-market success will be hard to achieve with so much space for nationalistic industrial policy, but that the effort is worthy and important and that, with committed leaders and dedication to the task, the ASEAN nations may make progress along the trajectory towards the single market goal.

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