Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Belt and Road Initiative: Cooperation in Trade Liberalisation and Antitrust Enforcement

Kelvin Hiu Fai Kwok The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law explores The Belt and Road Initiative: Cooperation in Trade Liberalisation and Antitrust Enforcement.

ABSTRACT: This chapter addresses the important issue of how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can best achieve its stated objective of promoting ‘unimpeded trade’ between China and the other BRI countries. Whilst many of the initiative’s announced proposals relate to infrastructure projects facilitating the transport of products and inputs across BRI countries, it is argued that it is equally important for the Chinese government to develop comprehensive trade liberalisation and competition policies emphasising cooperation between China and its BRI partners. This chapter has explained why cooperation in both trade liberalisation and antitrust enforcement across BRI countries is essential to the successful implementation of the initiative’s unimpeded trade objective, and has also explored strategies for the negotiation and conclusion of free trade agreements and antitrust enforcement cooperation arrangements. This chapter argues, in particular, that a BRI competition policy emphasising antitrust enforcement cooperation would ensure that the efficiency benefits derived from efforts to reduce natural and state-initiated trade barriers are not compromised by the anti-competitive conduct of private firms. It is argued that the effectiveness of a competition policy in the context of cross-border trade is crucially dependent on effective antitrust enforcement cooperation between the countries party to the free trade initiative. Owing to the legal and political complexities created by anti-competitive practices that impede free trade, such as export cartels and the abuse of power by local firms to exclude foreign entities, joint enforcement efforts are often required to successfully tackle such practices. This chapter contributes to the debate on the interaction between public and private trade barriers, and the broader relationship between trade liberalisation and antitrust enforcement, in the specific context of China and BRI countries.

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