Competition Law in Developing Countries: Interview with Prof. Thomas Cheng

This week we had the privilege of interviewing Professor Thomas Cheng (University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law) on his book 'Competition Law in Developing Countries' (OUP, 2020).







Our main questions to Prof. Cheng: 1. In a time when everyone seems to be talking about competition in the digital economy, you write a book on competition law and development. Can you tell us a bit more about how you came up with this idea and this research focus? 2. In your book, you dismiss the possibility of analyzing specific countries, for instance through case studies. Moreover, you say that there is no universal approach to competition law, thus rebuking the call for convergence of regulatory systems. How do you articulate the analysis of competition law for developing countries, without treating them as a monolith? What do you mean when you say that the book is for the proponents of an approach of ‘informed divergence’? (11:21) 3. Clear objectives guide the enforcement of competition law, help to prioritize cases, and lead to an overall consistent competition policy agenda. However, quite often, it is hard if not impossible to determine the goals of a country’s competition law. Do you think that a developing country should expressly define its competition law and policy goals or leave them to the free interpretation (if any!) of courts, administrative authorities, and scholars? Are there objectives that should be preferred to others? (26:35) 4. When discussing the interface between intellectual property and competition, you utilize the concept of ‘laggard innovation’. Can you tell us a bit more about it and its role in shaping national and international competition policies? (46:00) 5. A solid regulatory environment that bestows a primary role to the ‘rule of law’ is a good catalyst for foreign investment. On the other hand, too much competition, especially in small jurisdictions, may hold off potential investors. Finally, foreign investment, while introducing new resources and technologies in a country, may create economic dependence and slow down innovation. How do you untie this difficult knot? (57:37)