AUTHORITY FOR CONSUMER
EDITION N° 25
OUR CONTRIBUTORS 2-3
. Beneﬁts of Compe��on for Consumers. PANAMA
. Sanc�on for monopolis�c prac�ces to the Na�onal Union of Customs Brokers of Panama (UNCAP) and Customs Brokers
. Inves�ga�on for Presumed Monopolis�c Prac�ces Rela�ng to the Acquisi�on of Bar Codes.
. Compe��on Advocacy to the Na�onal Air and Naval Service.
. Handbook on Compe��on Law for Consumers.
. Excep�onal Means of Early Termina�on of the Judicial Process or Administra�ve Inves�ga�on for Monopolis�c Prac�ces.
. ACODECO Interna�onal Technical Coopera�on in �mes of Pandemic.
. Obliga�ons of the Public Servant in the Bidding Acts.
. COVID-19: Prices of Masks or Face
FREEDOM TO COMPETE
Beneﬁts of Competition for Consumers
Na�onal Directorate of Compe��on
Compe��on brings beneﬁts for consumers, which are some�mes not so easily perceived, despite the
fact that the rivalry between compe�ng companies to win the preference of consumers, allow them
to beneﬁt by ﬁnding a greater variety of products and services, at be�er prices quality.
One of the main objec�ves of compe��on policy is to increase consumer welfare; This is reﬂected in
our compe��on defense law, by establishing that its purpose is to protect and ensure the process of
free economic compe��on while preserving the best interests of the consumer.
BULLETIN In an environment where free compe��on is eﬀec�vely protected and promoted, economic agents
or compe�tors only have to concentrate on compe�ng for the preference of consumers, making
them acquire their products or services; companies with the interest of capturing the preference of
buyers, will constantly seek the way to be�er meet their needs and thereby keep them aﬃliated over
A free market system could generate in consumers a sense of power and abuse by economic agents;
for example, when the prices of the products and services they oﬀer increase or when their quality
deteriorates. This feeling of consumers can be counteracted, with their ac�ons, when searching the
market for the best op�ons, those that ﬁt their needs and economic possibili�es; comparing,
checking and then consuming, becomes an appropriate way to obtain the best, encouraging
companies to oﬀer products with compe��ve prices and quality.
BULLETIN OUR CONTRIBUTORS
Buying on impulse or fashion, regardless of price or quality, is usually a frequent behavior of
consumers; this does not help companies look for ways to improve. When an economic agent
increases the price or lowers the quality of a product or service, and con�nues to have consumer
acceptance of purchase, he will take a comfortable posi�on, he will have no incen�ve to lower the
price, if the consumer will ﬁnally buy from him. That is why, from the point of view of compe��on,
consumer purchasing decisions play a fundamental role for there to be eﬀec�ve compe��on in the
The Authority for Consumer Protec�on and Compe��on Defense (ACODECO), in its work of
surveillance and presence in the market, also contributes to making compe��on work and beneﬁt
consumers; in its role of inves�ga�ng and punishing conduct contrary to compe��on law, of
verifying the future eﬀects on the markets of mergers, developing advocacy and promo�ng
compe��on in the public sector as well as the private sector, in order to develop a culture of free
market for the beneﬁt of all.
Crearly, the main beneﬁciaries of greater compe��on are consumers, because they obtain
aﬀordable prices, a variety of goods and services, and be�er technology; As long as there is
compe��on, there is an incen�ve to improve quality and eﬃciency and innova�on are promoted
among economic agents.
Sanction for monopolistic practices to the
National Union of Customs Brokers of
Panama (UNCAP) and Customs Brokers
Through an administra�ve resolu�on, the Na�onal Directorate of Free Compe��on imposed a
sanc�on to the Na�onal Union of Customs Brokers of Panama (UNCAP) and a group of economic
agents dedicated to customs brokerage, for the commission of absolute monopolis�c prac�ce, for
viola�on of ar�cle 13, numeral 1 of Law 45 of 2007; the conduct consisted of the act, combina�on,
arrangement or agreement with the purpose of arranging, agreeing or exchanging informa�on
aimed at ﬁxing the minimum price of customs brokerage services, in the Republic of Panama.
A�er having obtained a ruling in favor from the specialized courts in ma�ers of free compe��on and
consumer aﬀairs, ACODECO imposed an administra�ve penalty amoun�ng a total of B /. 62,548.43;
determined based on the provisions of ar�cle 104 of Law 45 of 2007.
Investigation for Presumed Monopolistic
Practices Relating to the Acquisition of Bar
The Na�onal Directorate of Free Compe��on, And the gran�ng of barcodes by GS1 PANAMÁ is
ini�ated by complaint, an administra�ve open to the general public; but it requires an
inves�ga�on on possible ver�cal restric�ons “aﬃlia�on” to guarantee the gran�ng of the
carried out by GS1 PANAMÁ, a company that beneﬁts and support of the service they oﬀer.
oﬀers barcodes to iden�fy products in the
industrial and commercial ﬁeld. Clients are not required to renew the service and
can leave the aﬃlia�on at any �me, which allows
It was indicated that GS1 PANAMÁ, prevented them to contract said service with any other
its clients from being able to contract with compe�ng agent in the market.
companies that competed in the sale of
barcodes, through the establishment of No evidence was found to determine that GS1
contractual condi�ons, such as invalida�ng the PANAMA was performing an unreasonable act
barcodes that had been sold to customers who with the inten�on of displacing its compe�tors
did not had renewed their subscrip�on, which from the market, so the administra�ve ﬁle was
would end up harming the client, in addi�on to ordered to be closed.
being able to cons�tute a possible restric�on or
limita�on of free compe��on.
GS1 PANAMÁ, is an authorized agent of the EAN
standard iden�ﬁca�on system, which oﬀers its
clients standardized barcodes that allow a more
eﬃcient opera�on than non-standardized
barcodes; oﬀering guarantees in the
iden�ﬁca�on, capture and use of informa�on in
a safe and fast way.
Competition Advocacy Free Competition
to the National Air and
Naval Service Ar�cle 86, paragraph 5, of Law No. 45 of 31
October 2007 establishes that one of its func�ons
is to advocate free compe��on with economic
agents, associa�ons, educa�onal ins�tu�ons,
non-proﬁt en��es, civil society organiza�ons and
the Public Administra�on through which it may
recommend in a non-binding way, through
technical-legal reports, the adop�on or
modiﬁca�on of any procedure or requirement of
any sector of the na�onal economy or carry out
studies in order to promote and strengthen
compe��on in the market.
A�er the analysis of the acts denounced, ﬁrst, they
contravene Ar�cle 44 of technical speciﬁca�ons,
which regulates Law 22 of June 27, 2006
(amended by Law 153 of May 8, 2020), on
technical speciﬁca�ons, which cannot refer to
trademarks, number of catalogs or classes of
equipment from a given manufacturer. On the
other hand, they could be limi�ng free
compe��on, as other economic agents oﬀering
other op�ons cannot par�cipate.
The Na�onal Directorate of Free Compe��on of In view of the foregoing, SENAN was
the ACODECO, in response to complaint number recommended that, when drawing up the
126040, received by electronic means on April statement of objec�ons and its technical
22, 2021, where an economic agent, shows speciﬁca�ons, these should be aimed at allowing
concern, before possible eﬀects on free the greatest par�cipa�on of economic agents,
compe��on, carried out in four (4) public acts, regardless of the trade mark they represent,
by the Na�onal Air and Naval Service (SENAN), enabling greater compe��on with fair prices,
of the Ministry of Public Security, where they maintaining quality and eﬃciency, consonants
request a mark of ﬁlters and belts, which obey with needs and greater beneﬁt for the State and
the same mark of the engine and its numbering the public interest.
and requiring them to be original.
Handbook on Competition Law
Economic compe��on is considered as that In this sense, ACODECO will be launching
rivalry between diﬀerent companies that the Handbook on Compe��on Law for
compete in a market, in which they have Consumers, which will have the purpose of
the opportunity to oﬀer goods and services providing guidance on how Compe��on
applying strategies and innova�ons to stay works and the great beneﬁt it generates for
ac�ve against other rival companies. everyone.
Therefore, the main objec�ve of
Compe��on Law is to ensure the existence Consumers will be able to learn about the
of good prac�ces in the market for goods role of ACODECO as the compe��on en�ty
and services, in order to grant beneﬁts not in Panama and orient themselves on the
only to those who par�cipate directly in a procedures and procedures that are carried
speciﬁc market, either as consumers or as out in rela�on to Compe��on Law based on
producers, but also contributes to overall what is established by Law 45 of October
economic growth and beneﬁts society. 31, 2007.
Exceptional Means of Early Termination of the
Judicial Process or Administrative Investigation
for Monopolistic Practices
According to law, the en�ty can only complete
the inves�ga�on phase or terminate a process
already established by monopolis�c prac�ces,
through the comple�on of se�lement, whether
judicial or extrajudicial; those that carry out
strict compliance with legal formali�es, and
On May 12, 2021, the DNLC held a virtual provided that the inves�gated or defendant
mee�ng with a group of university students, economic agents accept measures regarding the
gradua�ng from the Faculty of Law and Poli�cal conduct or acts inves�gated, including penalty
Sciences of the University of Panama; the issue clauses.
addressed was related to the excep�onal means
of early termina�on of a judicial process or The Poli�cal Cons�tu�on marks the way forward
administra�ve inves�ga�on for the possible for transac�ons where the State is a party, as
commission of monopolis�c prac�ces. occurs in cases of monopolis�c prac�ces where
ACODECO, on behalf of the Panamanian State,
In the development of the discussion, it was inves�gates, demands and punishes these illegal
explained that a func�on a�ributable to the behaviors.
en�ty is to cease at any stage of the
inves�ga�on, or even a�er a process has been The judicial or extrajudicial se�lements signed
promoted, the carrying out of se�lements with by ACODECO will only have legal eﬀects if they
economic agents, as the only legal means of comply with the following steps: obtain the
comple�on of the ac�on. It was explained that favorable opinion of the A�orney General of the
the en�ty is not empowered to submit ma�ers Na�on and be authorized by the Cabinet
on monopolis�c prac�ces to an alterna�ve Council. In case of being within a judicial
means of conﬂict resolu�on, such as process, the se�lement must also be submi�ed
concilia�on, media�on or arbitra�on. to the judge's approval.
Cooperation in times
The pandemic has led ACODECO to virtually
a�end to interna�onal ac�vi�es in the ﬁeld of In mul�lateral par�cipa�on, Panama's presence
consumer protec�on and compe��on defense, in virtual interna�onal forums and organiza�ons
mainly through coopera�on and collabora�on on consumer protec�on and compe��on
ac�ons with peer agencies in the region. defense is strengthened. In these, they
par�cipate in projects, working groups and
The Interna�onal Technical Coopera�on Oﬃce interna�onal ac�vi�es, contribu�ng to the
(OCTI), promotes and reinforces the presence objec�ves and working closely with the
and par�cipa�on of ACODECO in the homologous authori�es in rela�on to the
interna�onal level, especially in the most common regional commitments and goals.
important networks in rela�on to the issues that
concern the en�ty, either by par�cipa�ng in In this sense, Covid 19 has not been an
video calls, webinars, communica�on by emails impediment for ACODECO to par�cipate in the
and others. following interna�onal forums and networks,
such as: Consumer Protec�on Council of Central
At ACODECO we have con�nued implemen�ng America and the Dominican Republic
strategic ac�ons for technical coopera�on and (CONCADECO), United Na�ons Conference on
informa�on exchange; We ensure compliance Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Program for
and follow-up of bilateral, regional and Compe��on and Consumer Protec�on in La�n
mul�lateral coopera�on agreements on America (COMPAL), Organiza�on for Economic
consumer protec�on and compe��on defense; Coopera�on and Development (OECD), Central
We strengthen coopera�on �es and bilateral American Network of Na�onal Authori�es in
rela�ons with counterpart ins�tu�ons abroad. Charge of Compe��on Issues (RECAC),
Interna�onal Compe��on Network (ICN , for its
acronym in English), Ibero-American Forum of
Government Consumer Protec�on Agencies
Obligations of the Public Servant
in the Bidding Acts
Report to ACODECO those situa�ons arising from public contracts when there are indica�ons of:
• Undercover posi�ons, in which they can • Companies that present themselves as
present oﬀers and then withdraw them, or in compe�tors at the approval mee�ng and
the case of incomplete proposals, requirements subsequently present themselves as accidental
requested and not delivered. consor�a or associa�ons at the �me of the
submission of bids.
• Suppression of oﬀers or absten�on from
par�cipa�ng in a public event: Absten�on from • The winner of the public act subcontracts the
par�cipa�ng in a certain area in order for the losing economic agent.
opponent to par�cipate and win that area.
• The lowest oﬀer is always presented by the
• Rota�on of the winner: When an economic same economic agent, while the oﬀers of his
agent wins an act, but par�cipates in the next opponents are higher or onerous.
public act with the purpose of losing so that his
compe�tor (arrangement) wins.
COVID-19: Prices of Masks
or Face Protectors
ACODECO, through the Price Informa�on and Veriﬁca�on Department , in compliance with the
func�on of providing informa�on to consumers who live in our country, so that they make be�er
consump�on decisions, daily surveys the prices of diﬀerent products and services, in the diﬀerent
retail marke�ng channels, especially those with the highest consump�on.
In Resolu�on No. 1438 of the Ministry of Health (MINSA), of May 14, 2021, which modiﬁes the
ﬁrst ar�cle of Resolu�on No. 1420 of June 1, 2020, it is established, in point 2 of ar�cle 1, the
mandatory use of a face shield or screen as addi�onal protec�on, in addi�on to the use of a mask
for all users of mass public transport, in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among na�onals
and foreigners living in the territory of the Republic of Panama.
As a result of this new provision, which came into eﬀect on May 17, 2021, several shopping
centers in the metropolitan area were visited between May 18 and 19, in order to survey the
prices of masks or face shields.
The result of the survey showed that the store oﬀers a variety of models of masks or face shields,
at diﬀerent prices. In 15 stores visited in the Los Pueblos 2000 and Los Andes shopping centers, nine
establishments sell face shields, with prices ranging from B / .0.49 to B / .5.00. One Balboa is equal
to one dollar.
In the Santa Ana and Albrook Mall sector, in 12 establishments it was found that prices range from
B / .0.25 to B / .3.75, depending on the model to choose. The model that was found for sale in
prac�cally all commercial establishments is the face shield with glasses with prices from B / .0.49 to
B / .1.00. In the case of polycarbonate face shields, prices ranging from 1.98 to B / .3.75 were found.
As of the eﬀec�ve date of the resolu�on of MINSA, reports of price increases were received.
However, the price evolu�on of the surveys carried out does not conﬁrm this.
Consumers are advised to compare the prices presented at diﬀerent vendors and even with
peddlers or street vendors, in order to make a be�er purchase of face shields. Remembering that
prices are under free supply and demand and by choosing the best prices for each model of face
shield, compe��on is encouraged and with it the possibility of obtaining be�er prices.
AUTHORITY FOR CONSUMER PROTECTION AND COMPETITION DEFENSE
Price Information and Veriﬁcation Department
RETAIL TRADE PRICE SURVEY - COVID-19 EASY GUARDS
May 18th and 19th, 2021
LOS PUEBLOS 2000 LOS ANDES SANTA ANA ALBROOK MALL
Modelo Nombre Almacén Almacen El Distribuidopra Distribuidora Almacen El
Distribuidora Ventas Fiesta Almacén La Onda El Costo El Titán El Machetazo Festival Vendela Almacen Jif Odel 5 Estrellas Éx ito Alm El Costo
Nayco Corp, Titan acen Midi
Graﬁti Distribuidora Distribuidora Mayorista El Costo
Fiesta Feliz Panamá Word El Titán Gran Fiesta Excelente Vivi Santa Ana Evelyn Peatonal Ave. B. Ave. B. Albrook Mall Albrook Mall Albrook Mall
Los Pueblos Peatonal Ave. B. Ave. B. Ave. B.
Face Shield 1.00 --- --- --- --- --- 0.99 --- --- --- --- --- 0.79 --- --- 0.50 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 0.25
Adjustable Face Shield 3.00 1.00 --- --- --- --- 0.99 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 1.00 --- --- --- --- --- --- 1.00 0.99
Face Shield with Glasses --- --- --- 0.49 0.49 1.00 --- 1.50 0.49 0.49 0.49 0.49 0.79 --- 0.50 0.50 0.49 0.49 0.75 1.00 0.50 0.49 --- 0.49
Polycarbonate Face Shield --- --- --- --- --- 4.99 5.00 1.99 --- --- --- --- --- --- 1.98 --- --- 3.75 --- --- --- --- 1.99
Short Acrylic Mask --- --- --- --- --- 2.50 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 2.50 3.00 --- --- --- --- --- ---
Protective Sunglasses with Visor --- --- --- --- --- 2.50 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 1.98 --- 2.50 3.75 --- --- --- --- ---
Child Protector --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 0.99 0.69 --- --- --- --- --- --- 2.50 --- --- ---
Face Shield with Magic Closure --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 1.00 --- --- ---