As of 1 September 2017, competition rules apply to all national and foreign companies which are active in the Curaçao market. These rules, have been laid down in the National Ordinance on competition [in Dutch: Landsverordening inzake concurrentie],
The National Ordinance comprises the following rules for undertakings:
- the prohibition on cartels;
- the prohibition on abuse of a dominant position; and
- the obligation to notify certain concentrations
These rules should promote competition in Curaçao. As a result, prices can decrease, and welfare, investments and employment can increase. In addition, they improve the corporate sector’s (international) competitive position.
The Fair Trade Authority Curaçao (FTAC) monitors compliance with the National Ordinance on Competition.
The FTAC may launch investigations into possible infringements of these rules in response to complaints, a tip-off or signals. The FTAC may also launch investigations on its own initiative. Furthermore the FTAC conducts market research to identify competition in a sector of the Curaçao economy. The FTAC can make recommendations to increase competition based on this market research. Finally the FTAC gives “solicited and unsolicited’ advice to the government about existing or new laws and regulations which affect competition.
The FTAC has various investigative powers to perform its duties. It can for instance request business documents of an undertaking (or association of undertakings) and may carry out an investigation at the offices of an undertaking. The FTAC may also interview relevant (former) employees of an undertaking.
Enforcement in case of non-compliance with the rules
In case of infringement of the rules of the National Ordinance, the FTAC may impose a penalty payment, a binding directive or a fine on the relevant undertaking(s). Fines can reach as high as ANG 1 million or, if this is greater, 10 percent of an undertaking’s total annual turnover.
In addition, the FTAC may impose a fine on persons who can be held accountable for – so who are deemed to be initiators of or who actually direct – an infringement.
The FTAC may also impose fines if a party provides incorrect or misleading information, fails to cooperate in an investigation or violates the obligation to notify concentrations. These fines can reach as high as ANG 1 million or, if this is greater, 1 percent of an undertaking’s total annual turnover.
The National Ordinance offers the FTAC a legal basis to join forces with other national and international regulators. The FTAC considers this cooperation important to perform its duties efficiently and effectively.
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