The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice announced today that representatives of the United States and Mexico have signed a bilateral cooperation agreement to facilitate more effective antitrust enforcement in both countries. The accord, "Agreement Between The Government Of The United States Of America And The Government Of The United Mexican States Regarding The Application Of Their Competition Laws," was signed in a ceremony in Mexico City. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein and FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky signed the agreement on behalf of the United States and Secretary of Trade and Industrial Development Herminio Blanco Mendoza signed for Mexico in a ceremony at the Secretariat of Trade and Industrial Development in Mexico City. Mexico becomes the eighth important trading partner with which the United States has entered into such an agreement.
The agreement, which became effective upon signature, will be implemented on a day-to-day basis for the United States by the FTC and the DOJ's Antitrust Division and for Mexico by the Federal Competition Commission.
Commenting on the signing, Chairman Pitofsky stated, "This agreement is the capstone of the cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on antitrust enforcement which began with the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and will help ensure that the critical economic relationship between our two nations continues to flourish. It also demonstrates further pursuit of the hemispheric goal of antitrust cooperation announced at the first competition Summit of the Americas held in Panama City in 1998."
The purpose of the agreement is to promote cooperation and coordination between the competition authorities in each country in order to increase the effectiveness of each nation's antitrust enforcement as well as to avoid conflicts arising from the application of competition laws. The United States has signed similar agreements with the European Union, Canada, Germany, Australia, Israel, Japan, and Brazil.
The accord, modeled on the U.S.-Canada agreement of 1995, calls for each country to notify the other of enforcement activities that may affect important interests of the other. It calls for cooperation, including through providing law enforcement assistance and sharing non-confidential information. It also provides for coordination of investigation of related matters, and details the factors that shall be considered in deciding whether to coordinate.
The agreement provides for "positive comity," a request by one party that the other investigate anticompetitive practices in the latter's jurisdiction that adversely affect important interests of the requesting party. Such a request does not require the requested party to act, nor does it preclude the requesting party from undertaking its own enforcement. The agreement also provides for traditional or "negative" comity, calling on the parties to consider each other's important interests during all phases of an investigation.
Finally, the agreement provides that the parties commit to protect the confidentiality of information communicated in confidence under the agreement and to oppose third-party applications for disclosure of such information, and states that nothing in the agreement requires either party to act in a manner inconsistent with its own laws or a change in a party's laws.
The Commission vote to approve the agreement was 5-0.
Copies of the agreement 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.
FTC Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Competition