Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Global Value Chains in Competition Law - Wednesday 1 February 2017, 14:30 - 19:30

Global Value Chains in Competition Law

Wednesday 1 February 2017, 14:30 - 19:30

UCL Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

A conference organised by the Centre for Law, Economics and Society at UCL

“The paradigm of the world political economy has shifted dramatically over the past twenty years. Legal scholarship, however, lags significantly behind. Existing legal scholarship is calibrated to an outdated model that suggests that multinational corporations – either individually or through one-to-one supplier relationships — create, manufacture, and sell a given product. But in today’s world, in what have been termed ‘global value chains’ the research, design, production, and retail of most products take place through coordinated chain components that stretch systemically across multiple – from a few to a few thousand – firms […] (t)he most important paradigm for understanding the global economy, and the political and social relationships that both guide it and stem from it, is no longer the template of the market but rather the role of global value chains” (K.B. SOBEL-READ, (2014), Global value Chains: A Framework for Analysis, Transnational Legal Theory, 5(3), pp. 364-407, 364 & 367)

Global Value Chains are prevalent in the global economy. A recent joint OECD, WTO and World bank report indicates that between 30% and 60% of G20 countries’ exports consist of intermediate inputs traded within GVCs. Economic production is increasingly structured around GVCs, which permit the simultaneous and coordinated transnational production and distribution of a very large array of products that each stage of the supply chain has to manage effectively, without this involving vertical integration by ownership. These supply chains start from the factors of production and other inputs needed for the production of a good and end up with distribution of the end product to the final consumer. Firms find it crucial to enter into long-term agreements with partners in other segments of a value chain, in order to create the necessary relation of trust that is required by the importance of relation specific investments that need to be undertaken in setting the supply chain management. This may lead to disintermediation and vertical integration but also to de-concentration through the constitution of networks or supply alliances that are managed by supply chain councils.

With some exceptions GVCs have not been explored systematically by competition law. The concept offers an important analytical potential. The most obvious one relates to the transnational dimension it brings forward, calling for a “transnational coordination” between “destination states” and “producer states”, this coordination being pursued at global, regional or bilateral levels, and raising interesting questions as to the scope of the extraterritorial enforcement of competition law, in particular with regard to “transformed products”. A deeper impact could be the re-conceptualization of the way competition law deals with vertical integration or quasi-integration and the more holistic perspective the concept of global value chain may ask from competition law enforcement, also with regard to its interaction with other competition policies.


Scope of the Conference The conference will explore these different dimensions of the global value chain concept in competition law. The first part will focus on the delimitation of this concept and will discuss its usefulness as an operational concept in competition law, looking in particular to its trans-national dimension and the international aspects of competition law enforcement. The second and third parts of the conference will take an industry-specific perspective and will explore how the concept of global value chain may alter the way we conceptualize the role and tasks of competition law with regard to global digital value chains and global food value chains. Issues, such as the implications of big data, the development of digital platforms, the gatekeeping role of search engines, the quest for network neutrality, the increasing consolidation of the factors of production sector in food, the global strategies of retailers will be explored from the angle of Global Value Chains theory with the aim to understand how this may challenge “the familiar landmarks of our thought” in competition law and economics and how we may need to reconsider the current model of competition law enforcement in these areas.


The Speakers:

  • Tembinkosi Bonakele, Commissioner, the Competition Commission of South Africa
  • Philippe Chauve, Head, Food Task Force, European Commission
  • Kevin Coates, Convington & Burling, Brussels
  • Dennis Davis, President, Competition Tribunal of South Africa
  • Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law, University of Oxford
  • Alexey Ivanov, HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, Moscow
  • Marcio de Oliveira Junior, Professor of economics, University Center of Brasília, former head of CADE (Brazilian competition authority)
  • Bill Kovacic, Professor at the George Washington University School of Law, Non-executive Director UK CMA, former head of the US Federal Trade Commission
  • Ioannis Lianos, Professor of Global Competition Law and Public Policy, UCL
  • Damien Neven, Consultant, Compass Lexecon, former chief economist, European Commission
  • Pierre Regibeau, Vice President, Charles River Associates
  • Simon Roberts, Professor at the University of Johannesburg
  • Krishna Ravi Sirinivas, Consultant at RIS, India
  • Florian Wagner von Papp, Reader in Laws, UCL

Modestly priced tickets available from:

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