In 2017, the South African Reserve Bank issued three new banking licences to Discovery, Bank Zero and TymeDigital. These are the first licences issued to new banks in more than a decade since the issuing of a bank licence to Finbond Mutual bank in 2001. In the State of the Nation address in 2018, the South African president hailed this as an opportunity to ensure competitive rivalry in a highly concentrated sector. However, the potential for entrants to bring disruptive competition with substantial benefits to consumers needs to be assessed in the context of challenges in the banking industry in South Africa.
In the developing world, disease and poverty are interdependent making access to essential medicines at affordable prices even more critical. 80% of the two billion people worldwide without access to essential medicines live in low income countries. As such, competitive rivalry in the pharmaceutical industry can improve access to medicines by reducing prices and through motivating brand companies to challenge existing patent drugs and create new and improved medicines. Furthermore, upon expiration of patent drugs, competition encourages generic companies to provide less expensive alternatives of medicines.
The world population is expected to reach ten billion by 2050, which has implications for food security in the context of climate change. In the recent $43 billion acquisition of Syngenta, a global seed company, by ChemChina, a chemicals company, the CEO of ChemChina notes that the merger was driven by China’s need to secure future food supply, given the country’s history of famines. This strategy highlights the importance of access to seeds as a key input in agricultural production. This article looks at the implications of increased consolidation in the global seed industry on access to seed and food security.
Shingie Chisoro Dube
In May 2015, the Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) lodged an investigation into cartel conduct by major banks in the foreign currency exchange market affecting the South African rand. The CCSA alleges that certain banks have colluded to fix prices in currency pairs involving the rand. The banks alleged to be involved in the collusive arrangement, called the “ZAR domination” include BNP Paribus, BNP Paribus South Africa, CitiGroup Inc, Citigroup Global Markets (Pty) Ltd, Barclays Bank Plc, Barclays Africa Group Ltd, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan South Africa, Investec Ltd, Standard New York Securities Inc and Standard Chartered Bank. The above traders in foreign currencies are under investigation for directly or indirectly fixing prices on bids, offers and bid-offer spreads with regard to spot, futures and forwards currency trades.