Opening Statement by Robert Pitofsky
Almost two years have passed since the Commission initiated hearings on the impact of global competition and technology competition on antitrust and consumer protection issues. Those hearings led to a report on competition policy in the new high-tech global marketplace, and contributed to agency thinking about the issues that were addressed. At a more concrete level, the hearings and report led to the creation of a task force which eventually offered amendments to the Department of Justice - Federal Trade Commission Merger Guidelines dealing with the issue of efficiency claims.
I would like to restate the first paragraph of my opening statement at the initiation of those earlier hearings:
"One of the principal responsibilities of government regulators is to ensure that the laws they enforce are regularly reviewed, and occasionally adjusted, to take account of changing conditions in the world. Many recent challenges to the 'overly intrusive' or 'overly burdensome' regulatory state often should be addressed to obsolete regulation rather than regulation itself."
In that statement I also called attention to the fact that an express purpose in the establishment of the Federal Trade Commission was for the agency to gather for the use of Congress accurate and complete information about industry sectors and the changing nature of competition.
In a sense, the set of hearings that we initiate today grew out of the efforts that began in 1995. In the process of examining new issues impacted by global and high-tech competition, we asked participants in the hearings what portion of antitrust law and enforcement seemed least clear and arguably most out of date. A substantial majority of participants cited antitrust law as it applies to joint ventures.
Our goal in these hearings is to solicit opinions of a wide variety of witnesses and participants on various questions relating to joint ventures. We have no set of conclusions in mind but rather solicit the views of knowledgeable people from academia and representing the business and consumer communities. In the end, we hope to propose a set of guidelines that will help to clarify existing law and possibly offer suggestions that will bring the law up to date. We appreciate what a formidable challenge this project offers but , with the assistance of participants in these hearings, look forward to a constructive result.
June 2, 1997