Sunday, January 9, 2005

Two SSRN Working Papers on Competition Policy and the WTO

(1) Bernard Hoekman & Petros C. Mavroidis, Economic Development, Competition Policy, and the WTO:  "To be unambiguously beneficial to low-income countries, any WTO antitrust disciplines should recognize the capacity constraints that prevail in these economies, make illegal collusive business practices by firms with international operations that raise prices in developing country markets, and require competition authorities in high-income countries to take action against firms located in their jurisdictions to defend the interests of affected developing country consumers."

(2) Bernard Hoekman & Kamal Saggi, International Cooperation and Domestic Policies: Lessons from the WTO Competition Debate:     
International cooperation is generally driven by a desire to offset a negative spillover imposed by other countries or to help governments to overcome domestic political economy constraints that impede the adoption of welfare enhancing policy changes. In principle, both conditions are satisfied in the competition policy context for developing countries. This then raises the question why no agreement could be reached in the WTO to launch negotiations on competition law. In this Paper, we review what was on the table in the WTO and discuss the lessons that are suggested by the seven-year effort in the WTO to develop a negotiating/cooperation agenda. We argue that the process was a productive one, as it helped identify potential gains from cooperation, although the institutional framework for this has come to lie outside the WTO. A reason for this is that over time the discussions came to focus less on areas where there clearly are spillovers, and more on 'good practices' for domestic enforcement of antitrust law - an area in which the WTO does not have an obvious comparative advantage.

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