Competition on the islands

There are some famous models in economics based on island economies. Usually, that is a metaphor for issues of transportation costs and restrictions on the flow of goods and information. You may not have realised this but there are islands in the real world. Between England and France there are several known as the ‘Channel Islands.’ I learned this week that they are not part of the United Kingdom but operate under similar laws and monarchy but are somewhat independent. So independent that each island has its own competition authority.

As it turns out, the Deputy Head of the Jersey Competition Authority is an Australian by the name of Andrew Riseley. I met Andrew at a conference this week where he disabused me of my ignorance regarding the scope of competition issues that they face there on Jersey. In fact, a look at their active issues and it could read just like the ACCC. From fuel to post to reducing the costs of switching your broadband provider (and yes, if Jersey can have choice surely Australia can have that too).

Now, as with all such things, I believe that the criteria imposed by Norm from Cheers applies: the things that will get attention and scrutiny are anything that could result in a change in the price of beer. So Andrew’s hot issue at the moment is the proposed acquisition by the Liberation Pub Company of one of the main wholesale alcoholic beverage distributors on Jersey. He told me that that acquisition as already been moved to their Phase Two process which I take to mean that Andrew will spend more time on it. I think competition authorities around the world dealing with the politics of that industry will be watching island developments closely.

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