International Competition Network Launches New Initiatives on the Investigative Process, Enforcement Cooperation, and Working with the Courts

FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez Promotes Collaboration and Cooperation at ICN Conference

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The International Competition Network (ICN) launched initiatives on the investigative process in competition cases, international enforcement cooperation, and working with the courts, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.  The ICN also adopted new materials on unilateral conduct investigations, raising anti-cartel awareness, and explaining the benefits of competition, and presented four new teaching modules of a “virtual university” of competition law and practice.

The 11th annual ICN conference, hosted by the Brazilian Competition Policy System, was held on April 18-20, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro.  More than 450 delegates participated, representing more than 80 antitrust agencies from around the world, and included competition experts from international organizations and the legal, business, consumer, and academic communities.  FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez and Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice led the U.S. delegates at the conference.  The conference showcased the achievements of ICN working groups on mergers, unilateral conduct, cartels, competition advocacy, and competition agency effectiveness.

The conference’s Brazilian host agencies conducted a special project devoted to effective settlements in competition cases.  FTC Commissioner Ramirez presented remarks and participated in the discussion focusing on settlements of unilateral conduct cases.

“Designing and implementing effective remedies in unilateral conduct cases presents one of the most important, yet daunting challenges competition authorities face,” stated Commissioner Ramirez.  “While the right remedy can restore much needed competition in a market, an ill-advised remedy can turn what could be a big victory for consumers into little more than a Pyrrhic victory.”

The ICN Steering Group introduced and members approved three new initiatives.  The FTC and the European Commission co-chaired the investigative process initiative, which was presented by Alexander Italianer, Director General of the European Commission’s Competition Directorate.  The DOJ and the Turkish Competition Authority co-chaired the international competition enforcement cooperation initiative, which was presented by Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen.  The working with courts and judges initiative, co-chaired by the Chilean Competition Tribunal and Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, was presented by Malgorzata Krasnodebska-Tomkiel, President of the Polish authority. 

“The ICN has become a central forum for dialogue within the global antitrust community to share experiences and develop practical recommendations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen.  “Its work is enabling more effective and efficient antitrust enforcement worldwide, to the benefit of competition agencies and, ultimately, consumers.”

The ICN’s Unilateral Conduct Working Group, co-chaired by the FTC, Germany’s Bundeskartellamt, and the Swedish Competition Authority, promotes convergence and sound enforcement of laws governing conduct by firms with substantial market power.  The working group drafted chapters on the objectives of unilateral conduct laws and on predatory pricing for its workbook for agency investigators.  FTC Counsel Cynthia Lagdameo led a panel discussion on predatory pricing by dominant firms. 

The Merger Working Group, co-chaired by the DOJ, the Irish Competition Authority, and the Italian Competition Authority, aims to promote best practices in the design and operation of merger review regimes.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen led the conference discussion of current trends and developments in merger enforcement, including developments in economic analysis and effective merger remedies. 

The conference showcased the ICN Curriculum Project, a project led by the FTC to create a “virtual university” of training materials on competition law and practice.  Randolph W. Tritell, Director of the FTC’s Office of International Affairs, presented the Curriculum project at the conference.

“Over the past year, the ICN Curriculum Project produced four new modules, which address the analysis of competitive effects, leniency programs, merger analysis, and predatory pricing,” said Tritell.  “The modules draw on the experience and expertise of the ICN’s members and NGAs. They will contribute to building a comprehensive online educational center accessible to all, but which will be especially valuable to assist in training new staff in developing countries.”

The conference also highlighted the work of the Agency Effectiveness Working Group, which is developing a competition agency manual as a resource to enhance agencies’ effectiveness and presented new materials on knowledge management and human resources management.  Former FTC Chairman William E. Kovacic participated in a discussion on resource management for competition authorities.

The Cartel Working Group produced a paper on cartel awareness and outreach efforts and compiled comparative information on information exchanges in cartel cases.  DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott D. Hammond led a panel discussion focused on the challenges of bid-rigging enforcement.

The Advocacy Working Group finalized a competition advocacy toolkit with guidance tools for agencies and a handbook on conducting market studies.  In addition, the group issued a report on raising awareness of the benefits of competition. 

The ICN also approved new leadership positions. Chairman Eduardo Pérez Motta of the Mexican Federal Competition Commission was selected as the new Chair of the ICN Steering Group, replacing Chief Executive John Fingleton of the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading.  The FTC will co-chair the Agency Effectiveness Working Group and the DOJ will co-chair the Cartel Working Group.

The ICN was created in October 2001, when the FTC and DOJ joined antitrust agencies from 13 other jurisdictions to increase understanding of competition policy and promote convergence toward best practices around the world.  The ICN now includes 123 member agencies from 108 jurisdictions.

ICN documents are available at www.internationalcompetitionnetwork.org.

The FTC's Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust@ftc.gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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