PHL entry on survival of local economy amid pandemic wins Asean writing competition

TWO Filipino lawyers, who have written about how the Philippine economy has coped with the pandemic, have won the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Competition Law Essay Competition (AANZFTA).

The entry, titled “Online Platforms in a Locked-In Economy – An Asean Market Experience”, submitted by Atty. Abraham Alonzo O. Guiyab and Atty. Maria Fraulaine May L. Rapal is one of five winners in the competition’s open category, according to the ASEAN Competition Expert Panel and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

“With the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines has imposed quarantine restrictions to curb the effects of the pandemic. However, the shift from the economy to health priority has left the formal and informal economy industries at a breaking point. As such, there was a need to adapt and move on to digitization, ”the document states.

He notes that online platforms have started to flourish with significant growth in the number of new consumers using digital services. Local websites for food delivery services, mobile banking apps, and e-commerce in particular saw an increase in usage.

Localized lockdowns, restricted mobility at checkpoints and the necessity have driven more people than ever to use FinTech and other cashless solutions to access shopping portals while avoiding the risk of exposure, adds he does.

This has been supported by broader e-commerce solutions, such as Shopee and Lazada, which offer an integrated shopping experience that facilitates everything from acquiring and verifying customers to delivering and fulfilling orders. orders.

“However, it is not only these formal outfits that have benefited a consumer base who have found themselves ‘captive’ and thus newly receptive to trying out e-commerce transactions, countless informal and cottage industries have set up shop in online spaces. Facebook groups, reseller marketplaces and discussion forums have moved beyond being just social spaces to the experience of introducing many informal players into the world of e-commerce, ”he says.

The authors point out that while the formal platform economy has been dominated by these integrated websites (roughly the equivalent of the mall), smaller and informal actors have found that their access to e-commerce is now determined by a technology triad: social media sites, fintech and payment methods, and logistics and small parcel delivery applications.

“Naturally, the impact of Covid-19 was not equal between these two sectors: the formal players already had infrastructures in place, positioning them to capitalize on this sudden change in the market. On the other hand, informal and smaller actors would now find themselves navigating the less than transparent platforms and content standards that they can enforce, ”the article read.

Faced with this innovation, the authors say that challenges arise in the regulation of virtual space. Micro, small and medium-sized businesses that were initially reluctant to embrace online shopping and electronic payment systems were forced to change in order to survive. But government competition regulation is a fairly sensitive local issue, as in the past it caused Uber to quit.

Since there is not yet a policy governing local digital platforms, an analysis of laws proposed by advanced foreign jurisdictions such as the European Union (EU), United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea can be vital to helping the Philippines solve their own problems. . For example, the EU has proposed the Digital Markets Act governing controllers and the Digital Services Act.

“Digital platforms have clearly been placed in a dominant position. For this reason, government regulations aimed at promoting product innovation and better options for customers while balancing the entry of new participants into this emerging market is paramount, ”the document said.

The AANZFTA First Essay Competition is part of a phased competition law implementation program supported by the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Program. It aligns with the deliverables of the ASEAN 2025 Competition Action Plan, which was recently updated earlier this year and aimed to foster a competition-aware ASEAN region.

The winners will be presented this month at the 9th ASEAN Competition Conference, on the theme “Safeguard Competition: A Post-pandemic Response from ASEAN Competition Authorities”, and the articles will be available. at the Asean Virtual Competition Research Center.

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