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OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Volume II - Self-Regulated Professions

image of OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Portugal’s services markets are among the most heavily regulated in the OECD. As vital inputs into the business sector, services provided by professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, generate up to 1.8 times their value in outputs by firms that use them. However, structural flaws in the regulation make professional services highly expensive for firms, diminishing their ability to compete effectively. Regulatory restrictions also hamper innovation and efficiency within the professions. Against this backdrop, this report examines regulations for 13 self-regulated professions (lawyers, solicitors, notaries, bailiffs, architects, engineers, technical engineers, certified accountants, auditors, economists, customs brokers, nutritionists and pharmacists). From 923 pieces of legislation analysed, the report makes 348 individual recommendations for amending or removing provisions to improve competition, and makes a detailed inventory of the analysis underlying the work. Analysis of Portuguese legislation and professions was complemented by research into international experiences and wide consultations with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The OECD recommendations aim to remove or modify overly restrictive provisions in order to facilitate the access or exercise of the professions, to benefit businesses and consumers alike. This report identifies the sources of those benefits and gives estimates of their impact. Provided all recommendations are fully implemented, the benefit to the economy from lifting the barriers in the 13 liberal professions is estimated at around EUR 130 million a year.

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Assessment and recommendations

This report identifies distortions to competition in the Portuguese legislation. It proposes recommendations for the removal of regulatory barriers to competition in the regulations of 13 self-regulated professions: lawyers, notaries, solicitors and enforcement agents; architects, engineers and technical engineers; auditors, certified accountants, customs brokers, economists; nutritionists and pharmacists. The benefits resulting from the removal of regulatory barriers will lead to increased entry and facilitate business conduct, thereby bringing about lower prices, more innovative and diverse services and greater choice for consumers, and the ability to better meet wide-ranging demand as new, more efficient professional firms enter the market or existing professional firms adopt innovative forms of production and delivery of services. Provided the recommendations are implemented, the OECD estimates that the positive impact on the Portuguese economy will be around EUR 128 million.

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