Antitrust Advisory Supported The Annual Antitrust Forum Of The Russian Corporate Counsel Association (RCCA)
On 26 March 2021, the traditional Antitrust Forum ‘Healthy Economy = Healthy Competition’ was held by the Russian Corporate Counsel Association (RCCA) with the support of the Federal Antimonopoly Service and the Eurasian Economic Commission. Antitrust Advisory supported the Forum with its partners taking active part in the sessions.
Evgeny Khokhlov, partner of Antitrust Advisory, participated in the session called ‘Market Shock Changes: How Are Business Interests, On The One Hand, And Antitrust Law Requirements, On The Other Hand, To Be Taken Into Account’. He shared some practical suggestions and risk mitigation strategies with the Forum participants. According to Evgeny, any contact with competition authorities or, the more so, an antitrust investigation is fraught with a number of side effects which any company would like to avoid. When carrying out a risk assessment, companies tend to take into account not only possible fines but also the FAS orders which may be even more perceptible for their businesses. Among the most effective risk mitigation strategies, he named preparation of economic justification of a rise in prices, arrangement for temporary price promotions, development of compliance policies. Evgeny emphasized that businesses should not forget interaction with consumers, i.e., negotiating with them prior to the expected increase in demand, setting up product stocks before high demand phases, notifying customers in advance of an increase in prices, and increasing prices in steps rather than instantaneously. On a separate note, Evgeny noted that FAS is prepared to listen to companies’ reasonable justifications.
Another Antitrust Advisory partner, Alexander Egorushkin, moderated a session called ‘Contemporary Cross-Border Trade Problems’ and delivered a report on ‘Different Quality Of Goods In Russia And In Foreign Markets (Double Standards Problem)’. Alexander touched upon a subject which is most widely discussed by the mass media and antitrust experts and relates to possible differences between consumer goods produced for Russian and foreign markets. The FAS of Russia treats the situation as unfair competition in the form of fraudulent misrepresentation to consumers. Alexander suggested that the double standards investigation process should be made more transparent for the companies whose products are reviewed, and that an opportunity should be provided to such companies to state their position regarding selection of products for review before conducting expert analysis of the same. He recommended to focus specifically on the positioning of goods by their producers since it is such positioning that creates a certain impression on consumers and, respectively, may be the main factor which misleads them. The quality issue must remain beyond the scope of the double standards cases because if products meet the quality requirements which are applicable in Russia, then they are certainly safe, and the consumers, in principle, may not be misled regarding such aspect. Currently, FAS proposes to add the fact that a product is manufactured for either the Eurasian Economic Union or Russia to the other information on the packaging. However, according to Alexander, it is impossible to create a uniform template or to devise a uniform pattern for all situations where the quality of Russian products may differ from the products circulating in foreign markets.
Sergey Puzyrevsky, Deputy Head of the FAS of Russia, and Artyom Molchanov, the Head of the FAS Legal Department, addressed the issues of the state’s policy focused on promotion of competition. Arman Shakkaliev, a Minister for Competition and Antitrust Regulation of the Eurasian Economic Commission described the development of favourable competitive environment within the Eurasian Economic Union. Nelly Galimkhanova, the Head of the Industry Control Department of the FAS of Russia, draw the line between monitoring and antitrust investigations. Timofey Nizhedgorodtsev, Deputy Head of the FAS of Russia, spoke on the issues of price regulation. The report by Andrey Kashevarov, Deputy Head of the FAS of Russia, dealt with parallel import.
To view more information on the RCCA Forum, please click this link.