Competition puts businesses under constant pressure to offer the best possible range of goods at the best possible prices, because if they don't, consumers have the choice to buy elsewhere. In a free market, business should be a competitive game with consumers as the beneficiaries.
Sometimes companies try to limit competition. To preserve well-functioning product markets, authorities must prevent or correct anti-competitive behaviour. To achieve this, they often monitor:
•agreements between companies that restrict competition – cartels or other unfair arrangements in which companies agree to avoid competing with each other and try to set their own rules
•abuse of a dominant position – where a major player tries to squeeze competitors out of the market
•mergers (and other formal agreements whereby companies join forces permanently or temporarily) – legitimate provided they expand markets and benefit consumers
Competition authorities establish the rules by which the market works, allowing for markets to provide cheaper, higher quality goods and services to consumers. Within any sector, the development of a real market economy depends on the widespread acceptance and enforcement of competition rules.