The Government is committed to promoting competition to enhance economic efficiency and free trade, thereby also benefiting consumer welfare.
The Competition Policy Advisory Group (COMPAG) was established in December 1997 to provide a high-level and dedicated forum to review competition-related issues which have substantial policy or systemic implications, and to promote a pro-competition culture in both the public and private sectors, including handling of competition-related complaints. It promulgated a Statement on Competition Policy in May 1998 to provide an overarching policy framework to guide sector-specific efforts to promote competition.
To supplement the Statement and encourage all sectors to proactively implement Hong Kong's competition policy, COMPAG has developed a set of guidelines in 2003 to provide pointers with objective benchmarks and principles to assess Hong Kong's overall competitive environment; define and tackle anti-competitive practices; as well as to ensure consistent application of Hong Kong's competition policy across sectors.
Following a review of the HKSARG's competition policy in 2005 and two rounds of public consultation in 2006 and 2008 respectively, the Competition Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council in 2010 in order to provide a legal framework that prohibits and deters undertakings in all sectors from engaging in anti-competitive conduct which has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Hong Kong. After thorough deliberation at the Legislative Council, the Competition Ordinance ("the Ordinance") was enacted in June 2012.
The Ordinance was implemented in phases to allow time for the completion of all necessary preparatory tasks, and to enable the public and the business sector to make use of the transitional period to familiarise themselves with the new legal requirements and make necessary adjustments to their business practices. Upon the completion of the relevant preparatory work, including the establishment of the Competition Commission ("the Commission") and the Competition Tribunal ("the Tribunal"), the making of subsidiary legislation, and the publication of guidelines as required by the Ordinance, the Ordinance fully commenced on 14 December 2015.
As the Ordinance has come into full operation, competition-related complaints are handled by the Commission and the Communications Authority as the statutory authorities to enforce the competition rules. Correspondingly, the focus of work of COMPAG has been adjusted. COMPAG will continue to receive competition-related complaints only if those complaints concern entities which do not come under the regulation of the competition rules of the Ordinance. That would include, for example, complaints against government entities, most of the statutory bodies, and any other entities or agreement and conduct which have been exempt from the application of the competition rules.
COMPAG, operating under the new terms of reference, is now chaired by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, who assumes the overall policy responsibility for competition and oversees the implementation of the Ordinance and the work of the Commission.