Washington, DC - At its annual meeting, the International Competition Network (ICN) approved new guidance related to merger remedies, agency assessment and performance measurement, cartel investigative powers, market studies, competition agency ethics programs, and advocacy to the business community, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. The ICN also presented findings from a network-wide assessment to help shape its operations, agenda, and future work plans, known as its “Second Decade initiative.”
The ICN held its 15th annual conference, hosted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), on April 26-29, 2016. Nearly 550 participants from more than 80 jurisdictions participated, including competition experts from international organizations and the legal, business, consumer, and academic communities. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division led the U.S. delegation. The conference showcased the achievements of ICN working groups on unilateral conduct, agency effectiveness, mergers, cartels, and competition advocacy.
Chairwoman Ramirez spoke on a panel about disruptive innovation and competition advocacy where she highlighted the FTC’s advocacy in markets being reshaped by new forms of competition, including emerging internet peer-to-peer platforms and telehealth. This panel was the culmination of a CCS-led special project devoted to government advocacy and disruptive innovation that also produced a comparative report based on input from 44 competition agencies. Chairwoman Ramirez also accepted an award for the FTC’s advocacy work involving the sharing economy as part of the Annual ICN/World Bank Advocacy Contest, which recognizes and promotes successful advocacy initiatives by ICN members.
“Since its founding 15 years ago, ICN has become the premier forum for promoting convergence and cooperation in competition enforcement,” said Chairwoman Ramirez. “In developing consensus-based, common-sense guidance on enforcement, the ICN helps its members be effective champions for competition and consumers.”
DAAG Hesse moderated a panel on monopolization and the global economy. The panel was part of the Unilateral Conduct Working Group’s ongoing project on a framework for single-firm conduct enforcement, exploring various perspectives to inform and articulate common principles of sound competition analysis. As its name indicates, this working group, co-chaired by DOJ, promotes convergence and sound enforcement of laws and policies applicable to conduct by firms with substantial market power.
“The ICN has become a crucial instrument for dialogue, cooperation, and convergence within the global antitrust community,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hesse. “The Annual Conference provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on the great progress that has been made in competition policy and enforcement around the world, as well as the challenges that lie ahead. This practical cooperation with many other jurisdictions helps to create a strong foundation for more effective enforcement in a globalized economy. We look forward to continuing our work with ICN and its members on these important issues in the coming year.”
The Agency Effectiveness Working Group, co-chaired by the FTC from 2012 to 2016, addresses competition agency strategy, operations, and procedures. The working group developed reports on agency ethics and measuring agency performance, which were adopted at the conference. An agency’s commitment to its ethics rules and the self-evaluation of its actions are core components of agency governance. Evaluation, and the accountability it reinforces, can provide an informed foundation for future agency planning and enforcement choices and help justify the resources an agency receives for its mission. The working group also presented new on-line training modules on setting up a new competition agency, setting priorities, conducting dawn raids in cartel investigations, applying economic analytical tools, and addressing state restraints – adding to the ICN’s Training on Demand online curriculum.
The ICN’s members also adopted the Merger Remedies Guide presented by the Merger Working Group. The Guide details the overarching principles that are the basis of merger remedies and provides practical guidance on how these principles inform the design and implementation of merger remedies. The FTC and DOJ were active contributors to the development of the Guide. Following the conference, the FTC will co-chair the Merger Working Group.
The Cartel Working Group presented two new work products designed to aid members’ cartel enforcement efforts: a catalogue of agency investigative powers and a framework for sharing non-confidential information. The framework aims to facilitate cooperation among member agencies. Working group discussions at the conference addressed effective detection and deterrence, enforcement cooperation, leniency, compliance, and sanctions.
The Advocacy Working group presented an update of its Market Studies Good Practices Handbook and online Market Studies Information Store, a unique resource of over 600 competition agency market studies spanning 10 years and covering more than 30 jurisdictions. The working group also expanded its web-based toolbox on competition advocacy, providing examples of agency messages to business on the benefits of competition.
The Unilateral Conduct Working group provided an update of its work on the Analytic Framework for Assessing Unilateral Conduct. Over the past year, the group received position papers and held teleconferences on two topics: what is substantial market power and what conduct is exclusionary. The working group also announced the launch of a new project to analyze the effects of vertical restraints in online markets.
The results of the ICN’s Second Decade initiative reinforced the network’s commitments to inclusive engagement with its members and non-governmental advisors, experience sharing and the exchange of best practices among members, promotion of convergence and cooperation around sound enforcement approaches, and international advocacy for competition principles to the benefit of member agencies, consumers, and economies worldwide.
The ICN was created in October 2001, when the FTC and DOJ joined antitrust agencies from 13 other jurisdictions to increase understanding of competition policy and promote convergence toward best practices around the world. The ICN now comprises 132 member agencies from 120 jurisdictions.