In Costa Rica, Competition regulations

In Costa Rica, Competition regulations were first introduced in 1994, when Law N° 7472, Law
for the Promotion of Competition and Effective Defense of Consumers, came into force.
Among other matters, Law N° 7472 called for the creation of COPROCOM, charged with
enforcing competition rules. This law remained, for the most part, unaffected until 2019 with
the approval of Law N° 9736: Law for the Strengthening of the Competition Authorities,
approved as part of Costa Rica’s accession process to the OECD, and which includes some
important reforms to the country’s Competition Framework e.g., merger control, as well as the
inclusion of new instruments such as the leniency program and the de minimis rule, and most
importantly, it aimed to strengthen both of Costa Rica’s competition authorities (i.e.
COPROCOM and SUTEL). The General Telecommunications Law created a “sectorial”
competition regime especially for the operation of networks and telecommunications services
promoted and supervised by SUTEL. This regime, however, is fundamentally the same as the
competition regulations of Law N° 7472 and Law N° 9726 and in fact, both laws are of
supplementary application to the General Telecommunications Law.
Costa Rica’s Competition Framework is comprised by the following laws: i) Political
Constitution of Costa Rica (Article 46); ii) Law for the Promotion of Competition and Effective
Defense of the Consumer (Law Nr. 7472) and its Bylaws; iii) General Telecommunications Law
(Law Nr. 8642); iv) Law for the Strengthening of the Competition Authorities (Law N° 9736) and
its Bylaws; v)

 Law of the Public Services Regulatory Authority (Law Nr. 7593); vi) General Law of
Public Administration (Law Nr. 6227). Furthermore, Costa Rica adopted the Central American
Competition Regulations without reservations by executive decree on May 21, 2021.
2. Competition Authorities (article 279 of the EUCAAA)
Description: COPROCOM 1 and SUTEL 2 oversee the defense and promotion of free
competition, the latter being Costa Rica’s Superintendency specialized in overseeing in
general, the telecommunications market and its regulations. Whereas COPROCOM is an
organ pertaining to the MEIC, SUTEL pertains to ARESEP, albeit both have maximum
independence and autonomy, i.e., they possess technical, administrative, budgetary, and
functional independence that allows them to execute their functions under their own discretion
without interference from political pressures. They also have instrumental legal capacity that
allows them to manage their resources and assets and enter into contracts and agreements
with both public and private entities either national or international. SUTEL has the obligation
to consult with COPROCOM before issuing final decisions on concentrations and
anticompetitive practices. However, COMPROCOM´s opinion is not binding. Law Nr. 9736’s
main objective is the modernization of both competition authorities. 

For instance, it increased
the competition authorities’ budget3 and modified COPROCOM’s organization by introducing
a full-time competition council. This Law, among other important reforms, strengthen both
Coprocom’s budget for 2022 is of ¢708,641,188.00, colones, approximately USD$1,024,47. 00 (based on an
exchange rate of ¢692 per USD$1.00). However, this represents 30% of the total of the budget that was designated
by law:
TA to Support the Implementation of the Trade Pillar of the EU-CA Association Agreement
Legal review of the Central American Competition framework
authorities’ capacities for the promotion of competition or their “advocacy function”,

granted them with the possibility to encourage undistorted competition with non- coercive
means such as the issue of opinions, and guides, market studies, counseling activities, trainings
and the execution of cooperation agreements with peers from other countries. The latter, is
considered fundamental for the enforcement of Competition Law. Competition Authorities
may also issue opinions with regards to a public bid’s term sheet and identify those elements
that could obstruct competition. These opinions, however, are not binding. Nevertheless,
those public entities that chose to disregard these opinions will have to justify the grounds for
disregarding Coprocom´s recommendation.
Functions and powers: The Competition Authorities in Costa Rica have 3 fundamental
functions: i) competition advocacy or promotion of competition; 4 ii) investigate and fine
anticompetitive conducts or illegal concentrations; and iii) merger control. As mentioned
above, the advocacy function was invigorated with the introduction of changes of Law N° 9736
as did, in general all 3 fundamental functions. For instance, COPROCOM is empowered to
request to public or private entities any relevant information or documentation required by
COPROCOM to fulfill its tasks. It also has the possibility – once authorized by the competent
judicial authority-, to conduct inspections of industrial and commercial establishments and of
other facilities, 

when deemed necessary to collect evidence or avoid its destruction. The tasks
of the Competition Authorities are not only aimed towards the private sector, but also to the
public one. The Authorities are empowered to challenge administrative acts of public entities,
but also, they are encouraged to establish cooperation mechanisms. COPROCOM has the
authority to impeach and challenge any acts, resolutions or conducts by public entities, as well
as laws and regulations that could hinder competition. The Competition Authorities can also
recommend to the Public Administration the regulation or deregulation of prices.
Internationally, the Authorities may request every 5 years to a specialized international
organism, the performance of a peer review. In contrast to other countries, COPROCOM does
not oversee consumer protection law which is entrusted to a different entity5 and is focused
solely in competition issues

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