Competition rules are necessary for a healthy economy

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Amsterdamse haven

Port business owners appreciate guidance on grey areas

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (the ACM), the employers’ organisation ORAM and Port of Amsterdam held a discussion with the port business community regarding competition rules on Wednesday 13 December. Research by the Vrije Universiteit in 2016 among sales managers of port businesses in the Rotterdam region shows that knowledge and compliance of competition rules among the port community could be improved.

According to ACM Chair Chris Fonteijn, the supervisory body has been receiving increasing signals from the port and transport world in recent years that indicate that the competition rules are being violated. Since 2016, the ACM has been focusing in particular on port businesses. Ports are logistics hubs where businesses can be closely interrelated. Cartel formation is harmful. For the competitive position of the Port of Amsterdam, for businesses and for consumers. He said that cooperation is essential, but must also be proportional. Fonteijn: ‘Our doors are open. If you and your lawyers cannot resolve an important competitive issue, we appreciate it if you come to us for advice. We can then offer you guidance.’

Besides investigating cartels, the ACM is striving to raise the level of knowledge. In September 2017, the ACM wrote to businesses at the Port of Amsterdam and the North Sea Canal Area to inform them about the rules. This letter led to the ACM, ORAM and Port of Amsterdam taking the initiative to hold a seminar. They endorse the importance of fair competitive relationships. Fair competition leads to sectors that flourish. Both businesses and consumers benefit from this.

Kees Noorman, director of ORAM:  ‘Business owners are looking for clarity and certainty. If these are lacking, investment will dry up. Things are not always black and white. Much is already clear, but there is also a large grey area in which it is not clear whether something is permitted under the rules or not. Discussion helps everyone obtain a clear understanding.’

Koen Overtoom, CEO of Port of Amsterdam, said that there is a change occurring from a linear to a circular economy, and that cooperation is an inherent part of this. One man’s waste is another’s raw material. He asked the ACM to provide guidance, for instance by testing in advance, and was pleased with the help the ACM offered in response to this request. 

The Port of Amsterdam and ORAM will therefore organise a number of meetings to discuss competition rules next year. They stress the importance of knowledge and compliance.

For more information on compliance with the competition rules, click here.