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Lerisha Naidu

Lerisha Naidu is a Partner in Baker McKenzie's Antitrust & Competition Practice Group in Johannesburg.

It has been noted that the price volatility of essential food items in South Africa is under the watchful eye of the competition authority in South Africa. This is after legal interventions intended to guard against price increases during the pandemic were repealed when the National State of Disaster ended in early April 2022. At the same time, businesses that operate in the Consumer Goods and Retail sector are dealing with ongoing supply chain disruption.

The termination of the National State of Disaster in South Africa means that regulations and directions that were made to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in terms of the Disaster Management Act are effectively repealed. Part of the interventions made by the government were Competition Law block exemptions issued by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition in South Africa to aid government programs designed to fight COVID-19. As such, any agreements or concerted practices between parties in the affected industries, which may contravene the Competition Act, will no longer be exempted from the Act’s provisions.

The South African Competition Commission recently released its Economic Concentration Report, which highlights patterns of concentration and participation in the South African economy. The Report includes details on the Commission’s power to launch market inquiries into highly concentrated industries, as well as its increased authority to impose structural remedies on businesses in these sectors.

Our Banking & Finance, Competition & Antitrust, Mergers & Acquisitions and Trade partners in Johannesburg outline ten reasons to turn your attention to African trade and investment opportunities in the coming year. Some of these reasons include the rise in commodity prices, shifting patterns and alternative financing, digitization and competition law and enforcement.

Draft guidelines to the COMESA Competition Regulations, 2004 were published for public comment in October 2021. The guidelines are intended to provide clarity, transparency and certainty on the policies and procedures of the COMESA Competition Commission. Based on international best practice, they address the determination of fines and administrative penalties, as well as settlement and hearing procedures.

Overall, globalization has contributed to economic growth in Africa, but post COVID-19, authorities around the world are tightening restrictions and implementing barriers to foreign investments in a bid to protect industries that may be left vulnerable during these times. Lerisha Naidu, Partner, and Selma Matsinhe, Associate, in the Competition and Antitrust Practice Group in Johannesburg, explain how a careful balance needs to be struck between protectionism and attracting foreign investment.