Future of International Antitrust and Improving Antitrust Agency Capacity, The

Competition Policy and Antitrust

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

Daniel Sokol

Source

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 2, pp. 1081-1096, 2009; University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 2009-23, 2009

Summary

This article analyzes survey results following international antitrust cooperation and recommends future improvements.

Policy Relevance

International cooperation between antitrust regulators can be made more efficient by the use of long term advisors in preference to short term intervention.

Main Points

  • Antitrust agencies are governmental entities that attempt to prevent powerful corporations from using anticompetitive means to dominate commercial markets.
     
  • Young antitrust agencies require assistance in how to use their scarce resources as effectively as possible, improving their ability to combat anticompetitive conduct. International antitrust institutions are often able to help in this capacity.
     
  • International antitrust institutions, such as the International Competition Network, can identify best practices from around the world, and can help new agencies to implement effective antitrust strategies, such as requiring transparency and predictability in mergers.
     
  • Direct assistance, in the form of on sight advisors, can also help budding antitrust agencies, but requires more active participation from the international agencies. There are two forms of direct assistance currently used, long term advisors (LTAs) and short term intervention (STI).

    • Long term advisors spend an extended amount of time working in the new agency’s country, allowing for increased familiarity with the local system and needs.
       
    • Short term intervention is designed to address a single issue or task, and is less burdensome to the sponsoring agency.
       
  • A 2004 survey analyzed the experience of agencies who had received technical assistance over the previous decade. The survey results indicate that LTAs may be a more effective use of resources than STI.
     
  • LTAs are the more effective form of direct assistance because they are better able to respond to time sensitive antitrust issues, while STIs, which often take months to organize, can miss the window of needed assistance.
     
  • However, the survey results indicate that in some cases, STI is still the better approach.

    • Some discrete tasks can be undertaken in just a few days, in which case long term assistance is unnecessary.
       
    • STIs can also serve a diagnostic purpose, and can gauge the skills and temperament of the agency staff and leadership.

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