In testimony presented to the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, the Federal Trade Commission outlined its perspectives on international competition policy and enforcement.
Testifying on behalf of the FTC, Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen noted the marked rise over the last 20 years in jurisdictions that have competition laws. “The global economy, competition, and consumers everywhere benefit when competition laws function coherently and effectively, as does domestic antitrust enforcement,” Commissioner Ohlhausen said.
In testimony presented to the subcommittee, the Federal Trade Commission described its work in bilateral and multilateral forums to promote convergence toward best practices, the resulting successes, and the remaining challenges. The FTC along with the Department of Justice has taken a leadership role in promoting convergence toward best practices in antitrust enforcement and policy, including through the International Competition Network (“ICN”) and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Competition Committee.
Just recently, the FTC led an ICN project that culminated in the adoption of Guidance on Investigative Process. The guidance addresses key procedural fairness issues of transparency, meaningful engagement with parties, and the right to counsel. The FTC also has promoted antitrust enforcement cooperation among countries that are investigating the same conduct or merger transaction. Two recent examples are the Holcim/Lafarge merger of cement manufacturers and ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s acquisition of TRW Automotive in the car-and-truck components industry. Further, the testimony describes an FTC-led project to address undue costs and burdens in multi-jurisdictional merger review, which resulted in best practice recommendations that many competition agencies have adopted.
The testimony notes also that through bilateral engagement, and by taking a leading role in broader U.S. government efforts, the FTC has encouraged China’s and other jurisdictions’ agencies to ensure that their enforcement procedures and substantive approaches provide appropriate transparency and fairness. The FTC has made engagement with the three Chinese agencies that implement the country’s anti-monopoly law one of its highest international priorities.
With respect to intellectual property-related antitrust enforcement, the FTC and DOJ continue to convey concerns about provisions of China’s anti-monopoly law that prohibit unfairly high pricing and unduly restrict unilateral refusals to deal. According to the testimony, these provisions have the potential to reduce incentives for innovation not only in China, but also around the world.
The Commission vote approving the testimony and its inclusion in the formal record was 3-0.
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