FTC Chairman Delivers Remarks on The Effect of Global Trade on U.S. Competition Law and Enforcement Policies

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Federal Trade Commission Chairman Robert Pitofsky outlined his views on the effect of global trade on U.S. competition law and enforcement policies today in a speech before Fordham University's 26th Annual Conference on International Antitrust & Policy. Pitofsky said that while antitrust enforcers have become more sensitive to the vast increase in international trade and investment, "basic principles of competition policy have remained fairly stable."


In his remarks, Pitofsky outlined his views on how global competition has affected enforcement attitudes, the measurement of market power, theories of anti-competitive effect and the treatment of evidence of efficiencies. He concluded that basic rules have not been modified, either expressly or in more subtle forms of interpretation.


Pitofsky did point out that any changes are "probably more appropriately traced to new scholarship than changes in trade patterns." The exception, he noted, "might be increased willingness to accept efficiency defenses to mergers, but there were good reasons for this important change in American antitrust policy that had nothing to do with global competition."


In conclusion, Pitofsky said that the principal difference in antitrust enforcement over the past several years has been an increased awareness of the facts of international trade. "Imports have not only increased in volume, but agency personnel and courts are more sensitive to their significance," he said. "Where coordinated effects are alleged, the fact that they may occur across borders is one more factor to take into account on whether there are likely to be substantial anti-competitive effects." The Chairman added that in recent years, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division enforcement has shown clearly that hardcore cartels occur all too frequently, with participation by firms located in many different countries.


Pitofsky also outlined the trends in merger activity involving U.S. and non-U.S. firms. From 1987 to 1997, merger filings in the United States involving a foreign participant ranged from 15.5 percent to 51 percent, with the highest numbers occurring in the middle of that period.


Copies of Chairman Pitofsky's remarks are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

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