Chapter 4: The political economy of the competition regimes in Thailand and South Korea: a comparison
Thailand was the first among the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to pass a competition law, the Price-Control and Anti-Monopoly Act, in 1979. Two decades later, the law was replaced by the Trade Competition Act of 1999, which contains more comprehensive provisions to address restrictive practices. Despite the comparatively early adoption of the law, not a single firm has been subject to administrative or legal sanctions under either law. Thailand now lags far behind other emerging Asian countries, which have adopted and implemented their own laws, including Chinese Taipei (1992), Singapore (2004) and Indonesia (2000). Although the enforcement of competition law in these countries is not necessarily free from political interference and is still subject to certain institutional limitations, at least there have been decisions that have served to set legal precedence. The total failure of the Thai competition regime makes it an interesting case study for examining the kinds of challenges a country may face in implementing a competition law. This chapter seeks to investigate factors that have contributed to the apparent failure of the Thai competition regime in a political-economy context, as well as those that have accounted for success in the case of South Korea. The exercise will help to point out factors underpinning the success or failure of a competition regime which may be useful for countries that are considering adopting a competition law or that are in the process of redesigning their existing competition regime.
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