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Think Piece

Governments as Competitors in the Global Marketplace: Options for Ensuring a Level Playing Field

By Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 
March 2016

Over the past two decades, there has been a marked increase in outward investment by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), making “mixed markets” — in which state-related enterprises and private enterprises find themselves competing with each other — common. This development has given rise to concerns with respect to the potential for protectionist policy responses at the domestic level as well as the functioning of the global marketplace. Against this background, this paper considers what governments can do to address these concerns. It considers the importance of the issue and the policy tools that currently exist to help governments maintain a level playing field between SOEs and the private sector. The paper takes a multidisciplinary approach, looking at the issue from the competition, investment, and trade policy perspectives. It concludes by outlining options and prospects for developing some form of commonly accepted disciplines that would address gaps in the current policy toolbox available to governments for maintaining well-functioning markets open to both privately- and state-owned enterprises.

This piece summarises OECD’s recent and on-going work on this subject.  It was prepared by a team of experts covering different policy areas at the OECD. They are: Carole Biau and Michael Gestrin (Investment Division), Hans Christiansen and Sara Sultan (Corporate Affairs Division), Antonio Capobianco and Mona Chammas (Competition Division), and Przemyslaw Kowalski (Trade and Agriculture Directorate).

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