Based in Whakatū Nelson, Emma Ihaia specialises in competition analysis and regulatory economics, with 25 years of experience in this field. As a Principal Economist for Link Economics, Emma has been retained as an expert in the context of regulatory investigations and consultations, and has prepared competition assessments for merger clearances, authorisations, and market studies. She has also provided expert evidence for legal proceedings. Emma has advised clients in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the Pacific Islands.
Emma was the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council’s (FGC’s) economic advisor throughout the Commerce Commission’s grocery market study, and assessed the market effects of excessive buyer power, the effect of private labels on competition, the role of barriers to entry and expansion, and the extent of competitive constraints on the main supermarket banners.
She has also provided expert economic evidence for successful applications to the Commerce Commission for authorisation of collective bargaining by chicken growers who supply Tegel Foods Limited. Emma recently prepared an expert report that examined the public benefits and detriments of a proposed spectrum sharing arrangement between Telstra Corporation Limited and TPG Telecom Limited in Australia, that was submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the context of an authorisation application.
Specific areas of Emma’s regulatory expertise include efficient pricing design for regulated utilities and ex ante application of price squeeze and replicability tests by vertically integrated incumbents that operate in competitive downstream markets. Over a period of 4 years Emma led the Electricity Networks Association’s working group initiatives on electricity distribution pricing reform in New Zealand. Emma previously held a senior management position at an electricity distributor where her responsibilities included network pricing strategy and regulatory compliance.
Emma’s professional career has also included working for economics consultancies NECG, Charles River Associates and Concept Economics. While telecommunications and electricity networks have been areas of special focus, she has also worked on projects relating to aviation, agricultural services, postal services, medical supplies, financial services, transport, pay television and the water sector. Emma is a director of Nelson Airport Limited and Electricity Invercargill Limited and is a member of the Institute of Directors and of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand (CLPINZ).
Emma holds a Master of the Arts (First Class Honours) in Economics from the University of Auckland, for which her thesis used game theory and econometrics to examine access pricing arrangements between monopolistic networks.