Global Antitrust Prosecutions of International Cartels: Focus on Asia

34 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2007 Last revised: 20 Apr 2009

See all articles by John M. Connor

John M. Connor

American Antitrust Institute (AAI); Purdue University

Date Written: May 13, 2008


International cartelists today face antitrust investigations and possible fines in a score of national and supranational jurisdictions. This paper aims at providing quantitative information about the size and impacts of international cartel activity in Asia and uses a sample of modern private cartels to evaluate the relative effectiveness of three prominent Asian antitrust authorities. The sample consists of legal and economic information on 433 international cartels detected in Asia and the rest of the world during 1990-2007.

The need for assertive anti-cartel enforcement in Asia is demonstrated by the large affected commerce and economic injuries of known international cartels. Affected sales of detected Asian-region cartels combined with global cartels that fixed prices in Asia totals at least US$1.1 trillion in 1990-2007. The losses imposed on Asian consumers were at least $500 billion.

While more than $45 billion in penalties has been imposed world wide, it is doubtful that such monetary sanctions can deter modern international cartels. Optimal cartel deterrence is frustrated by the failure of compensatory private suits to take hold outside of North America, a reluctance to act against global cartels, and the low fines in most Asian jurisdictions. Of the three selected jurisdictions, the Korean FTC has the best record of anti-cartel enforcement in Asia, but even the KFTC's surcharges are recouping less than 15% of damages to its citizens. Without significant increases in cartel detection, in the levels of expected fines or civil penalties, or expansion of the standing of buyers to seek compensation, international price fixing will remain rational business conduct.

Keywords: international cartel, deterrence, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, antitrust

JEL Classification: L41, L44, L65, L11, L13, N60, K21, K14

Suggested Citation

Connor, John M. and Connor, John M., Global Antitrust Prosecutions of International Cartels: Focus on Asia (May 13, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

John M. Connor (Contact Author)

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