On 17 October 2023, the European Commission ("Commission") divulged its engagement in unscheduled on-site inspections, colloquially known as dawn raids, targeting various entities within the construction chemicals sector across multiple European Union member states. The inspections primarily scrutinize chemical additives for cement, and chemical admixtures for concrete and mortar, aiming to unearth potential competition infringements within the construction chemicals and materials domains.
In a novel collaborative endeavour, the Commission's officials were accompanied by representatives from pertinent national competition authorities of the Member States, alongside select competition agencies from non-Member States, including Turkey's Competition Authority and the UK's Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA"). This collaborative venture, especially between the Commission and the TCA, signifies a remarkable stride, as Commission-led raids in Turkey aimed to discern potential antitrust transgressions under the EU's competition law regulations, hinting at prospective collaborative initiatives between these agencies in impending investigations.
Concurrently, the TCA has amplified its endeavours to rectify competition discrepancies within the construction chemicals and materials sectors. In a recent discourse, the TCA's president, Birol Küle, disclosed the initiation of investigations against 17 entities within the same sector for suspected price-fixing and customer allocation violations1 under Law No. 4054. Küle further alluded to additional ongoing inquiries targeting certain entities within the construction chemicals sector, focusing on accusations of anti-competitive agreements on pricing strategies, information exchange, and potential collusive conduct during tender processes. Following Küle's statements, on 7 November 2023, the TCA also announced on its official website that the Board, with its decision dated 19 October 2023, has initiated two separate investigations against certain undertakings operating in the production and sale of cement and ready-mixed concrete. One of the investigations cover 17 undertakings active in ready-mixed concrete sector in Ankara and aims to reveal any potential anticompetitive in the labour market, which the TCA has maximized scrutiny in for the last two years2. The latter investigation on the other hand targets undertakings operating in the ready-mixed concrete and cement markets in Hatay and Malatya provinces of Turkey, which were struck by the devastating earthquakes in the southeast region of Turkey earlier this year. Allegations within the scope of the said investigation involves price-fixing and customer allocation violations3.
Küle confirmed in its interview that the liaison with the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition concerning the construction chemicals market probe.The extent of further collaboration between the TCA and the Commission amid these investigations remains to be seen.
This international collaborative venture potentially heralds an imperative epoch of competition agencies' cooperation to address competition law concerns transcending national boundaries. The coordinated dawn raids by the Commission and the TCA underscore the global essence of these concerns, even within the ostensibly traditional domain of construction materials and cement, contrasting with the dynamic and burgeoning digital markets currently under the microscope. Multinational corporations, with subsidiaries or operations across multiple jurisdictions, are bound to factor in potential inter-agency cooperation, as such collaborations could culminate in synchronized antitrust infringement allegations across different jurisdictions.
In summation, this multinational, encompassing approach accentuates the global resolve of competition regulatory bodies to uphold fair competition and ensure global adherence to competition stipulations. It is irrefutable that such international cooperation augments the efficacy of competition authorities' endeavours in identifying and addressing anti-competitive practices, propelling significant strides towards a globally competitive and transparent market ecosystem.
1. https://www.dunya.com/ekonomi/rekabet-kurulundan-17-cimento-firmasi-icin-sorusturma-haberi-708419 (last accessed 30 October 2023).
2. https://www.rekabet.gov.tr/tr/Guncel/ankara-ilinde-faaliyet-gosteren-bazi-haz-15589466797dee118ec700505685da39 (last accessed 8 November 2023).
3. https://www.rekabet.gov.tr/tr/Guncel/hatay-ve-malatya-illerinde-cimento-ve-ha-0f4268227a7dee118ec700505685da39 (last accessed 8 November 2023).
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