In Qatar there are many goods and services that have a single supplier. Either they have no competitors or have weak business rivals with limited market share, qualifying them to be called monopolies or duopoly businesses. Car dealerships, telecommunications, public transport and many Fast-moving Consumer Goods items fall in this category.
Worldwide, countries have competition laws or
antitrust bodies in place to curb monopolies and ensure free market
conditions. But none of the GCC countries, including Qatar, have taken
any initiative to ensure healthy competition to attract domestic and
In the absence of relevant laws and
antitrust bodies, abuse of their position by monopolies goes unpunished,
encouraging them to further exploit a captive market.Whether you are
installing a floor tiles or a shower wall, Consumer protection bodies are often not strong enough to bring heavyweight market violators to book.
some cases of monopolistic abuses have come to light where the victims
approached public forums and the authorities concerned to register their
protest against the offenders.
On December 26, Hamid, a Qatari
national, aired his grievances against the exclusive Toyota dealer in
Qatar on Qatar Radio’s popular programme, “Watani Al Habeeb Sabah Al
Khair” (Good morning, my beloved country).
Hamid, who gave only
his first name, told the Qatar Radio presenter: “I bought a brand new
Toyota car from Abdullah Abdul Ghani at a price of QR302,000. After
driving about 800 kilometres, I discovered that the car had
manufacturing defects in its brakes, electric connection as well as in
the body. When I contacted the dealer, I was given a date to go to
Sanaiya to check the car. Then the given date was extended by a few
days. When the company confirmed the defects, I was told that they were
normal defects. Subsequently, instead of replacing the car with a new
one, I was given two options by the car dealer: either to get the
problems fixed on company expense or re-estimate the value of the faulty
car and sell it back to the dealer. Obviously, neither of the options
suited me as I wanted the faulty car replaced or my money back.”
said that despite registering complaints with the mother company in
Japan, and the Ministry of Business and Trade in Qatar, he did not get
The presenter of the programme, Abeer, said a similar
case had been brought to light by an expatriate sometime ago, and as in
Hamid’s case, his problem was not addressed satisfactorily by the
company.Directory ofchina glass mosaic Tile Manufacturers,
added that this was due to the monopoly enjoyed by the company, which
is the sole supplier of Toyota and Lexus cars in Qatar. She said since
there was no other company selling these brands of cars here, buyers
were left with no option but to buy from them.
also suggested that since the Ministry of Business and Trade had not
responded to Hamid’s complaint, he and other consumers should contact
the Consumer Protection Department (CPD), perhaps unaware that the CPD
comes under the same ministry.
Abeer’s co-presenter said:
“Monopolies create conditions for consumer exploitation, and they don’t
care about consumers’ interests”.
Another victim of market
dominance by one firm was a customer of Qatar’s leading telecoms service
provider. She said: “During my stay in Sweden, I didn’t use my mobile
phone at all. But when I returned to Qatar after a month, the bill was
QR3,000. I contacted more than three officials at three different
outlets, but it was no use.
“This is a sheer case of consumer exploitation as there are not many providers of such services.”
monopolies have been discouraged by market regulators and governments
as they can harm consumers’ interests.High quality stone mosaic
tiles. Monopolists influence prices in two ways: they keep them so low
that it drives other, smaller players out of business; or they push
prices so high that products and services go beyond the reach of most
consumers. Obviously, neither situation is good for consumers.
is also not good for the economy, given that in the absence of
competition, monopolists become ‘price makers’ instead of ‘price
takers’, virtually eliminating free trade.
monopolies may be tempted to provide low-quality goods or sub-standard
services without fear of losing business. At times,The howo truck is offered by Shiyan Great Man Automotive Industry, this can put the health and lives of consumers at risk.
the contrary, a free market with perfect competition (also called pure
competition) has a large number of buyers and sellers where every seller
is a ‘price taker’ as no single seller is big enough to influence the
Keeping in view empirical evidence about market
abuse, collusion and unethical practices by monopolists and in
duopolies, most economies of the world, including many emerging
economies, have enacted antitrust or competition laws and set up
institutions to protect the interests of consumers as well as producers.
These antitrust bodies are tasked with ensuring healthy competition in
markets and protecting the interests of consumers as well as small and
Competition commissions/bureaus and antitrust
bodies also act as nodal agencies for business alliances such as
mergers and acquisitions involving large companies, and are equipped
with executive powers to impose penalties on market abusers. Their aim
is to ensure an equitable opportunity for small and medium businesses to
participate fairly in the market, and to make the economy attractive to
Recently, the European Commission imposed its
biggest ever antitrust fine, of €1.47bn ($1.94bn, QR7.07bn), on seven
electronics firms for fixing the market for television and computer
The Commission ruled that for a decade ending in
2006, the companies — including Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic —
artificially set prices, shared markets and restricted their output at
the expense of millions of consumers.
Another example is that of
New York-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the creator of the Viagra
pill. Because there was no other pill like Viagra available, Pfizer
became a monopoly for a product that was in high demand. The company was
able to dictate the price of the product and buyers had no choice but
to pay it. This was what is called an incidental monopoly. Eventually,
similar pills from other companies became available, ending Pfizer’s
Another well-known antitrust case of the past decades
is the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) case against AT&T, which
resulted in the old American Telephone & Telegraph being broken up
into seven regional companies and a much smaller AT&T.
of the best known antitrust cases is that brought by the DoJ and 20 US
states against Microsoft Corporation in 1998. The central issue was
whether Microsoft could bundle its Internet Explorer web browser
software with its Windows operating system. Bundling the two together is
alleged to have given Microsoft victory in the browser wars and
restricted the market for competing web browsers. The DoJ and Microsoft
settled the case in 2001, requiring the company to share its application
programming interfaces with third-party companies, but not preventing
it from tying other software with Windows.
of many economies have recently cracked the whip on airline companies
with big market shares, who were ordered to split into smaller companies
to ensure fair competition.
Pioneering free-market economies
such as the United States and Britain have had competition laws in some
form for centuries. In medieval Britain, with concern for fair prices,
an act was passed in 1266 to fix bread and ale prices in correspondence
with corn prices laid down by the assizes. Penalties for breach included
fines and pillory.
Formal laws followed much later. The US
enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, making monopolies illegal. In
Britain, formal legislation arrived in the form of the Competition Act
1998 and Enterprise Act 2002.
Competition laws prohibit
anti-competitive practices such as horizontal and vertical agreements
between enterprises that significantly prevent, restrict or distort
competition for goods or services.
including price-fixing; market sharing; limit or control of production,
marketing outlets or market access; and bid rigging are deemed
anti-competitive. Restrictive vertical agreements include tie-in
arrangements and exclusive deals aimed at putting up barriers against
new entrants in an industry.
Globally, most public utilities,
which supply electricity and water, are allowed to have monopolies
because of the difficulty and necessity of supplying these services to
all customers.China plastic moulds
manufacturers directory. Such monopolies are called natural monopolies
and are characterized by a small market size, meaning the market cannot
support more than one firm of an optimum size due to the high capital