A two-day training workshop on 'Competition and Consumer Protection' for the officials of the Afghanistan's Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force, and Afghanistan's Competition and Consumer Protection Directorate (CCPD), was held at the Competition Commission Pakistan (CCP).

The consultative experience-sharing programme was organized by the US Department of Commerce, through its Commercial Law Development Program, in partnership with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and CCP. This was the first ever such regional training on Competition Law, which was conducted by CCP for the Afghan officials.

Ms. Rahat Kaunan Hassan, Chairperson of CCP, while welcoming the delegates, appreciated Afghanistan's efforts to introduce a modern competition regime and stated that initiatives that promote regional cooperation over competition matters will benefit all participating countries.

In his introductory remarks, Hafizullah Walirahimi, General Director of CCPD, highlighted the steps Afghanistan was taking to modernize its competition laws and hoped that a contemporary regime would be introduced soon in Afghanistan. Joe Yang from the US Department of Commerce and Mr. Timothy Hughes from the Federal Trade Commission thanked CCP for hosting this workshop and for sharing its experience with their Afghan counterparts.

Interactive sessions on various organizational and managerial issues faced by new competition agencies were held. Chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan in her various presentations highlighted the numerous organizational, administrative, and financial challenges faced by CCP since its inception in 2007 and explained how she and her team surmounted these challenges and created a viable competition agency that is well respected all over the world in a short span. She talked in detail about choosing the right board members and staff, creating internal administrative and financial procedures, and developing competent human resources. She discussed the need for having a regional model for competition regimes drawing from the strengths of relevant competition agencies. She also emphasized that new competition agencies need to have administrative, financial and operational autonomy and the right enforcement and advocacy tools for the successful implementation of the contemporary competition laws.

Dr. Joseph Wilson, Member CCP, gave a presentation on overview of the organizational and management structure of CCP. Dr. Wilson spoke to the delegates about the integrated agency model - one being followed by CCP - where a 'single specialized agency undertakes investigative, enforcement and adjudicative functions' and how such a model is best-suited for new agencies. He also conducted a session on the need for having a merger control regime and took the participants through the various components of the merger regime in Pakistan and discussed the two phase merger review process in detail.

Ikram ul Haque Qureshi, Director General (Corporate Affairs) CCP, gave a detailed presentation on preventing and dealing with corruption. Mr. Qureshi stressed upon the need for internal checks and balances and policies which reduced the avenues for corruption but also cautioned against using allegations of corruption as a tool for vilification and revenge.

Others presenters included: Ms. Shaista Bano, Director General (Cartels and Trade Abuses) and Syed Umair Javed, Joint Director (Cartels and Trade Abuses) on 'Investigations to Enforcement: the Process from A-Z'; Ms. Nadia Nabi, Director (Cartels and Trade Abuses) on 'Establishing Reliable and Credible Resource Materials'; Mr. Ahmed Qadir and Mr. Asfandyar Khattak, Directors Advocacy, on 'Public Awareness and Outreach to Private Sector'.

The participants of the workshop in their feedback commended the presentations given by officials of CCP and the hospitality extended to them during the workshop. They said that they were exposed to many new areas of Competition Law which will be quite useful for the new competition regime in Afghanistan.  Mr. Timothy Hughes from the Federal Trade Commission, USA, said that the cross-border cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan was highly encouraging and will go a long way in establishing long term relationship between the two countries. Mr. Joe Yang from the US Department of Commerce said that the US was working with the Afghan government in many areas and this workshop was part of the program of development in Afghanistan. He thanked CCP for its experience-sharing with the Afghan officials, which will prove to be useful in their capacity-building.