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Product Market Competition and Economic Performance in the United Kingdom


  • Maria Maher
  • Michael Wise


This paper assesses what role product market competition and regulatory reforms may have played in the performance of the British economy over the past decade. Competitive pressures appear to be relatively strong in the United Kingdom, with regulations inhibiting competition and barriers to trade amongst the lowest in the OECD. Nevertheless, there is scope for improvement and the recent overhaul of competition legislation should help to further promote competition. Much progress has been made in the professional services sector. Self-regulatory bodies are no longer exempt from competition legislation and professional bodies have undertaken a number of actions towards removing or easing restrictions that inhibit competition. In the retail sector, market power remains a problem and the competition authorities will need to remain vigilant. The government’s recent approach to planning has made new large scale entry very difficult, impeding competition and inhibiting entry. Industry regulators also need to remain vigilant in the electricity, gas and telecommunications sectors. Reforms in these sectors have led to increased productivity, though international comparisons suggest that there is scope for prices to fall. While recent steps by the government overcome the most serious weaknesses of the privatised rail system, continuing problems regarding incentives and responsibilities remain to be resolved. Concurrence sur les marchés de produits et performance économique au Royaume-Uni L'objet du présent document est d'évaluer le rôle que la concurrence sur les marchés de produits et les réformes de la réglementation ont pu jouer dans les performances de l'économie britannique au cours des dix dernières années. Les pressions concurrentielles semblent relativement fortes au Royaume-Uni, où les réglementations entravant la concurrence et les obstacles aux échanges figurent parmi les plus modestes de la zone OCDE. Il existe néanmoins des marges de progression, et la récente refonte du droit de la concurrence devrait contribuer à promouvoir davantage celle-ci. Des avancées considérables ont été accomplies dans le secteur des services professionnels. Les organismes d'autoréglementation ne sont plus exclus du champ d'application du droit de la concurrence, et des organismes professionnels ont pris un certain nombre de mesures en vue de lever ou d'assouplir les restrictions à la concurrence. Dans le secteur de la distribution, la question du pouvoir de marché reste problématique et les autorités de la concurrence devront rester sur le qui-vive. L'approche adoptée récemment par le gouvernement en matière d'urbanisme a rendu très difficile l'installation de nouvelles grandes surfaces, ce qui entrave la concurrence et l'entrée de nouveaux acteurs sur le marché. Les autorités de régulation compétentes doivent également demeurer vigilantes dans les secteurs de l'électricité, du gaz et des télécommunications. Les réformes menées dans ces branches d'activité ont débouché sur des gains de productivité, mais des comparaisons internationales laissent à penser que les prix peuvent encore baisser. Si les récentes initiatives des pouvoirs publics ont permis de remédier aux défaillances les plus graves du système privatisé de transport ferroviaire, les problèmes persistants relatifs aux incitations et au partage des compétences doivent encore être résolus.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Maher & Michael Wise, 2005. "Product Market Competition and Economic Performance in the United Kingdom," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 433, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:433-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Takero Doi & Takeo Hoshi, 2003. "Paying for the FILP," NBER Chapters,in: Structural Impediments to Growth in Japan, pages 37-70 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James M. Poterba & Kim Rueben, 1999. "State Fiscal Institutions and the U.S. Municipal Bond Market," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 181-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta & Philip Hemmings, 2001. "Economic Growth: The Role of Policies and Institutions: Panel Data. Evidence from OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 283, OECD Publishing.
    4. Naoyuki Yoshino & Eisuke Sakakibara, 2002. "The Current State of the Japanese Economy and Remedies," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 1(2), pages 110-126.
    5. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Steve Golub & Dana Hajkova & Daniel Mirza & Kwang-Yeol Yoo, 2003. "Policies and International Integration: Influences on Trade and Foreign Direct Investment," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 359, OECD Publishing.
    6. Doi, Takero & Ihori, Toshihiro, 2002. "Fiscal Reconstruction and Local Interest Groups in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 492-511, December.
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    More about this item


    antitrust law; competition; concurrence; droit de la concurrence; industrie de réseau; market structure; network industries; politique de réglementation; productivity and growth; productivité et croissance; regulatory policies; Royaume-Uni; structure de marché; United Kingdom;

    JEL classification:

    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada

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