A Multilateral Competition Framework in the World Trade Organization: Beyond Doha
Posted: 10 Feb 2009
Date Written: September 2007
As a widespread movement towards economic liberalization led to the pervasive establishment of domestic competition policies oriented to foster economic efficiency by guaranteeing free-market entry and other grounds for free competition, the idea of developing a multilateral competition framework has been increasingly addressed both institutionally and academically. Particularly, the liberalization of trade and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) furthered the pro-marketeering logic which is also shared by competition, and therefore the so-called interface between trade in competition began to gain importance, to the extent that the WTO created a working group to discuss the eventual inclusion of competition within the scope of competence of the organization. However, such working group failed to reach a definite consensus, and in 2004 it was declared inactive by the WTO general council. Much of the critic has attributed this lack of consensus in the inclusion of competition to the WTO to the disparity between the domestic economic policies amongst member countries. In that sense, it has been contended that the enactment of a domestic competition law ought to constitute a precondition to participate in a multilateral competition framework. But as the number of countries with competition laws has dramatically increased in the recent years, and as there has been an increased awareness of the notion of competition policy understood as a systematic compound of elements beyond the mere enactment of the law, the question that then arises is: what are the grounds on which a country would be willing to participate in a WTO-based competition framework? To that end, the present study examines the impact that each of the main elements known to conform a domestic competition policy have on a country's willingness to participate in a multilateral competition framework, in order to conclude that the efforts of mutilateralizing competition policy should begin by providing a coherent platform of assistance for incipient competition regimes.
Keywords: Competition, Antitrust, Trade, Regulation, International Trade, WTO
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