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Competitiveness the Catalyst of Innovation PDF Print

Printed in the Business Monday May 31st, 2010

“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation.” - Management guru Peter Drucker

The theme of this year’s recently concluded Barbados Manufacturers Exhibition was “Innovate, Design, Manufacture”, a theme which is wholeheartedly supported by the Commission in its role of promoter of free and fair competition. The idea of innovation implies that there is an act of either creating or introducing something new. It is the basis from which new designs emanate and the underlying principle applied when manufacturing is to be considered. Design speaks to the novelty of creation, the ability to conceive or invent something while manufacturing builds on innovation in the form of the design and production of something tangible for the consumer to appreciate.

The recently negotiated European Partnership Agreement and another that is being negotiated with Canada, highlight the need for innovation in our industries as these trading arrangements bring with them several opportunities and threats. Opportunities will abound in the ability to access a larger market for their product or service and also the presence of more competition and innovative ideas. Threats will emerge as one will now face a more robust market place with seasoned competitors who are unafraid to try new approaches.

It may be safe to say that innovation begets competition and competition begets innovation. These interactions however create a need for markets to be monitored to ensure not only that competition exists, but that competition is fair and unbridled.

In the quest to appear competitive some companies may be tempted to use means which may otherwise be considered anticompetitive conduct. Such conduct may be exhibited either in terms of anticompetitive agreements or in abusing one’s dominance in some area.

It is with this in view that the Fair Trading Commission aims to promote, encourage and maintain competition in Barbados. This broad mandate necessitates that the Commission play a monitoring role in the local, regional and international markets to detect and eliminate all forms of anti-competitive conduct which may have an effect on Barbados.

With respect to agreements, all agreements between enterprises, trade practices or decisions of enterprises or organisations that have or are likely to have the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in a market are determined to be prohibited and thus void.

In relation to an abuse of dominance, it is important to recognise that a dominant position is not prohibited however, an abuse of the dominant position is prohibited. A firm is said to hold a dominant position in a market if, by itself or with an affiliated company, it occupies such a position of economic strength as will enable it to operate in the market without effective competition from its competitors or potential competitors. An enterprise with a dominant position will abuse that position if it impedes the maintenance or development of effective competition in a market. In determining whether or not an abuse has occurred the Commission will consider whether or not the conduct is likely to adversely affect the competitive process and harm consumers either directly or indirectly.

It is clear that innovation provides many businesses in Barbados with an opportunity to contribute significantly to the overall development of the nation which highlights the importance of innovation to this country’s economic development.

Indeed this has been the view of many business persons in Barbados and they have recognised the role they play as innovators in their specific industries and as significant contributors to the development of Barbados as a nation.

The Commission promotes the development of an environment in which innovation and creativity will flourish. Its focus is on the tenets embodied in words such as trust, equity, impartiality, fairness and justice. The Commission therefore encourages business models and a culture that lead to the efficient use of resources and provides a fair share of the resulting benefits to the consumer.

These are the principles which will ensure that Barbados’ economic and social progress remains sustainable in the challenging times that we now face.

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