PCC pushes for data science against cartels

MAR 25, 2022

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is pushing for greater use of data science tools in its assessment and reviews of competition issues to uncover cartels and abuses of dominance amid the rising use of digital by businesses and consumers.

“Big data can be the silent witness of competition authorities in uncovering cartels and abuses of dominance. By analyzing aberrations and trends in price points and other factors, we reinforce our capacities for evidence-based case building and litigation,” PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.

The toolkit promotes the use of empirical techniques for competition assessments, including for identifying possible collusive behavior, assessing market power, predicting outcomes of mergers, and determining appropriate penalties for anti-competitive conduct.

Balisacan explained that in antitrust, online platforms are among those that benefited the most from the pandemic-induced transition to a digital economy. “The strategic use of data can lead to market structures that incentivize players to abuse their dominance. Thus, regulations must adapt to these trends or risk becoming obsolete, or even harming rather than helping consumers and future innovations,” said Balisacan.

The PCC is collaborating with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) for the creation of a data science toolkit that will guide regulators and competition authorities in analyzing data, including those sourced from digital platforms.

As part of the culminating activity of the project, the PCC and the APEC Secretariat organized a capacity building workshop, where the Data Science for Competition Policy Toolkit was presented. Over 300 participants including representatives from competition authorities within the APEC region attended the virtual workshop.

In the past, the PCC has taken steps to advance its mastery of data science, such as the conduct of regular workshops for its economists and investigators, and in embarking on the 5-year partnership with the Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (RESPOND) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

One of the joint projects with the latter aims to make use of big data in the creation of policies for enhancing competition and ease of doing business in the country.