Thursday, May 16, 2013
Your roving Chair traveled to Warsaw last month to take part in the annual meeting of the International Competition Network, a convocation of the top antitrust and competition enforcement authorities and non-government advisors (NGAs) from more than 100 countries. Our Section receives an invitation to attend as an NGA. And on this occasion, I was invited to be a panelist at two break-out sessions and describe what our Section does to contribute to the ICN's work of building and extending the rule of competition law throughout the world. Both panels were interesting, and each illustrates the way our Section interacts productively with the enforcement tier of the international competition law community.
The first panel I joined was organized by Eduardo Perez Motta, the Chairman of the Mexican Federal Competition Commission and also currently the Chairman of the ICN. Eduardo knows our Section well from having attended and spoken at many of our conferences, including last month's Spring Meeting. The topic of his Chair's Initiative Session was: "The ICN as an Advocate," and the panel included two national enforcement leaders, Salvatore Rebecchini, Commissioner of the Italian Competition Authority, and George Lipimile, Director and CEO of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and one NGA (me), discussing the ways the ICN strengthens emerging competition law authorities around the world.
The second panel I contributed to was organized by Cal Goldman, partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon in Canada and a former Chair of the Competition Bureau of Canada. Cal's panel focused on specific ways NGAs can contribute to the work of the ICN. Here the panelists included, in addition to me: Frederic Jenny, Chairman of the OECD's Competition Law and Policy Committee; Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission; and Ron Stern, another NGA who is Vice President and Senior Competition Counsel for General Electric Company.
My comments at both sessions covered four ways our Section contributes to the growth of sound competition law around the world. First, we submit our Section's formal views each time a country solicits public comment on a new legislative or regulatory initiative in the fields of competition or consumer protection law. I knew that we are among the most active participants in this international exchange of views and best practices, but I still found it remarkable that since 2008, our Section has contributed 89 sets of comments in these public fora, including 68 to foreign jurisdictions and 21 to agencies and legislative bodies in the United States. We owe much to our International Task Force, currently co-chaired by Randy Tritell and Tad Lipsky, which shepherds our comments from initial drafting through Council approval and clearance through the ABA's arcane "blanket authority" process. We are also indebted to the Section's substantive committees, whose members work assiduously to provide early drafts of all our comments, often under great time pressure.
It is interesting to reflect on the diversity of countries and governments to which we have sent our comments since 2008: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United Kingdom.
Second, our Section has contributed to the growth of competition law by collaborating with the leading international organizations in the competition field to spread the message of how important strong and clear antitrust enforcement is to the proper functioning of national economies. To the ICN audience, I offered just two of many examples: This year our Section is partnering with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to present a symposium on Retrospective Analysis of Merger Decisions. The symposium will take place at George Washington University Law School on June 28-29, 2013 under the leadership of Bill Kovacic from GWU and John Davies from OECD. Second, our Section has contributed funding to a video training program produced by the ICN that will be used by ICN member competition authorities to train their staffs and the public in various international best practices in the competition and consumer protection law fields.
Third, I noted that our Section's conferences provide excellent venues for international enforcers to disseminate their views on key competition policy matters to stakeholders and the broader antitrust community. I mentioned our Spring Meeting in particular, where our record-setting 2013 audience of almost 2800 people included nearly 600 enforcers and practitioners from 58 countries outside the United States. I also noted the two offshore conferences our Section has sponsored this year in New Delhi (last November) and Sao Paulo (this coming June 6-7), as well as the China conference we will be presenting next year under Chris Hockett's leadership.
Finally, I expressed our Section's readiness to engage competition authorities in more informal dialogues about international competition law best practices, noting that we have had such exchanges recently with enforcers from China and India. We have organized these informal sessions both on our own and in collaboration with the International Bar Association.
I think the audiences at our two ICN break-out sessions must have been as impressed as I am by the magnitude, duration and persistence of our Section's efforts to make a positive contribution to the growth of the competition law enterprise throughout the world. I hope all Section members will join me in gratitude both for our Section's many years of consistent leadership in the international competition space and for the work of our countless member volunteers over these years whose tireless and often anonymous drafting and reviewing contributions have made this important outreach effort possible.
Chair, Section of Antitrust Law