Assessing Theories of Global Governance: A Case Study of International Antitrust Regulation

Competition Policy and Antitrust

Article Snapshot


Anu Bradford


39 Stanford Journal of International Law 2, 2003


This paper looks at how nations could cooperate in making competition policy.

Policy Relevance

Nations are likely to continue to work towards cooperation in setting competition policy by voluntary consensus. More participation from civil society is needed.

Main Points

  • Nations working towards more cooperation in setting competition policy can cooperate at three levels:
    • Intergovernmental – Governments seek to negotiate an international treaty, for instance through the WTO.
    • Transgovernmental—lower-level government actors cooperate directly with each other.
    • Transnational –Firms, consumer groups, and other organizations become involved, as with the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.


  • Nations in the intergovernmental model pursue national interests instead of a globally optimal competition policy, but can also address big picture issues like how competition relates to trade (which, some claim, is an advantage of bringing competition law to the WTO).


  • Transgovernmental networks can be very effective. They shift power from the political and legislative sphere into the hands of administrators. Bilateral treaties are examples of transnational governance.  They can advance cooperation yet are unlikely to pursue maximization of global welfare.


  • International governance can be less democratic.  Participation of consumers (as beneficiaries of competition policy) and corporations (as targets of competition regulation) in the setting of international competition policy can enhance its transparency and legitimacy.


  • International cooperation in competition policy would help solve enforcement problems with global cartels and monopolies. At the same time, retaining some diversity across competition jurisdictions encourages innovation.
    • Cooperation among nations has proceeded furthest in the EU.
    • Cananda and the EU support bringing competition law to the WTO, while the US has been opposed.
    • Creating a new global competition authority would be hard to fit into existing structures.
    • Voluntary modes of cooperation are likely to dominate in the foreseeable future.

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