This week, Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and FTC International Affairs staff are participating in discussions on geographic market definition, trade-offs between merger prohibition and conditional clearance, independence of competition authorities, big data and other timely topics at meetings of the Competition Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 35 member countries from around the world, including many of the world’s most advanced countries but also emerging countries. Its Competition Committee has the following main objectives:
- identifying best practices in competition policy and antitrust enforcement;
- promoting convergence among national antitrust policies; and
- enhancing cooperation among competition agencies.
The FTC and DOJ’s Antitrust Division represent the United States in the OECD’s Competition Committee, and its semi-annual meetings attract senior officials from competition agencies of member countries and observers who discuss their experiences on key antitrust enforcement and policy issues. For example, the Committee has recently held roundtables on procedural fairness, generic pharmaceuticals, competition issues related to standard setting organizations, and fidelity rebates. At meetings this week, members will continue a discussion on the FTC-initiated topic of competition issues related to disruptive innovation. This time members chose to focus on the land transportation sector. The meetings also include the annual Global Forum on Competition, which typically attracts competition representatives from over 90 jurisdictions.
The Competition Committee’s flagship output is its Recommendations to member governments, which set a high standard of international best practice in competition policy and enforcement. These include Recommendations in the areas of merger notification and review and anti-cartel enforcement. The FTC recently played a lead role in updating the OECD’s Recommendation on International Cooperation, which has been influential in encouraging increased cooperation among competition authorities from both member and non-member countries.
Through participation in the Committee’s peer reviews, members use their experience to suggest areas for possible improvement to their colleagues’ competition systems. For example, as a lead examiner during Brazil’s peer review, the FTC suggested merger reforms including the adoption of a pre-merger notification regime with clear notification thresholds and review timetables. Over time, many of these and other recommendations have been adopted by the recipients, largely due to the OECD’s credibility. At this week’s meetings, members will conduct a peer review of Ukraine’s competition regime, with Chairwoman Ramirez as the lead examiner on institutional and merger control issues.
Since 1962, U.S. participation through the FTC and DOJ in the OECD’s Competition Committee has helped promote international antitrust enforcement cooperation, convergence of competition policies that affect U.S. and global business and trade, and sound antitrust enforcement, benefitting U.S. and international consumers and companies. This work complements the FTC’s activities in the International Competition Network (ICN) and other international competition fora and in its direct engagement with its counterparts around the world.