In Tunisia the first case of covid-19 was officially declared on March the 2nd and the total lockdown was decreed 20 days later for 40 days when the Tunisian government began to ease the total shutdown in order to revive the economy. The brutal disruption caused by the pandemic has led to difficulties in the production and distribution of a number of essential products which has in some cases led to shortages.
The Tunisian competition council has responded to this health crisis by listening to the economic players and to the consumers in order to ensure the continuity of first-need goods supply and the protection of consumer welfare.
Even though it was forced to slow down its working pace because of the total lockdown, the Tunisian competition council has been stood active and so vigilant. That said;
- It has been asked for its advisory opinion in decree-laws dealing with COVID-19 pandemic concerns. This intended to repress monopolistic practices or predatory acts, to control prices over high demand items.
- It has early suggested and put more heavy sanctions on producers and retailers engaged in excessive pricing of first need goods and health-related products.
- The council has been so careful and determined to preserve litigant’s rights. Indeed, all the legal deadlines have been suspended since March 22th.
The Tunisian government has started to ease measures taken in the shutdown period since May the 4th. Thus, the council is by now ready to deal with the post COVID 19 lockdown period competition concerns.
Indeed, the council remains vigilant regarding the examination of post-COVID-19 merger projects that can harm the market. Besides, the council role is also to review the measures taken previously in the lockdown and see if they have adverse effects on industries, business and consumers by resulting in anti-competitive practices such as price fixing, collusion between competitors and public subsidies.
Furthermore, the Tunisian competition council intends to launch shortly inquiries into possible price increases and output restrictions of healthcare products, disposable gloves, hydro-alcoholic gels and some first need goods.
Finally as the COVID-19 pandemic is global and new at the same time, the Tunisian competition council is widely open to an international exchange of the best practices and to cope with sustaining investigation, enforcement and in compliance with competition rules.