E-commerce bill flagged for anti-competition

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    The changing landscape in the retail industry that forced companies to embrace online channel and the government’s plan to regulate it has given rise to some competition issues.

    Christina Faye de Sagon, head of the Legislative Liaison Office of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) told a Senate hearing last week on the Internet Transactions Bill there are some concerns about establishing regulatory frameworks that may impair entry and expansion in the both the electronic commerce and brick and mortar markets.

    De Sagon said incentives to be given to e-commerce players may discriminate against traditional brick and mortar firms, putting the former to an advantage.

    De Sagon urged legislators if they can look at how the same support can be given to both traditional and online retailers which would also encourage more players in the market.

    De Sagon said anti-competitive conduct can occur in the online market and urged legislators to include a provision in the legislation itself requiring fair reasonable and non-discriminatory terms between the retailer and the platform on the products that will be posted.

    Section 19 of Senate Bill 1591 authored by Sen. Win Gatchalian grants newly registered micro-enterprises exemption from all national and local taxes for the first two years of operation.

    Jennylle Tupaz, president of Ayala Malls, in a recent forum meanwhile said brick and mortar will continue to be relevant only that traditional retail space is transforming.

    “(Malls are) an experiential space it’s like a mini city… where the mall replaces or acts as a lifestyle space that supports the community,” Tupaz added.

    With the speed and availability of technology, Tupaz said mall owners are now looking at reconfiguring the cuts of available spaces and like in Ayala’s experience, to ensure the malls are in strategic areas.

    Tupaz sees contraction and consolidation in mall space due to flight to online and increase in low-touch activities.

    “We’re seeing that it’s not just a matter of maximizing the space that you have. It’s really about focusing on the value proposition of a particular mall and it’s with Ayala. It’s not just about transactions but also enjoying the mall environment,” she said. (I.Isip)