A Brief Note on Trade and Competition Policy in English
Because of the extent of trade liberalization and globalization and the increased importance of foreign direct investment as an engine of growth in the economic environment, competition laws and polices are now becoming more and more indispensable both in each country and in the international field. In this note, I shall briefly outline the discussions of the Working Group in the WTO and developed countries' activities on it.
2) The Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and CompetitionPolicy
Since WTO rules have no clear mechanisms in place to deal with international
anti-competitive practice, the WTO’s Working Group on the Interaction
between Trade and Competition Policy has been discussing its three principal
objectives : (I) the securing of basic commitment by Members to adopt and
enforce a competition law, (ii) the agreement on measures to address anti-competitive
practices: and (iii) the adoption of measures to strengthen international
cooperation in this area.
There are many different arguments about the way to deal with relevant subjects of Trade and Policy in the WTO. In Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) seems to be rather positive to build basic standard of competition law and to enforce among member states. On the other hand, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is not so convinced and it tries to deal with this subject in connection with anti-dumping.
In spite of these different arguments, it is clear that an implementation of a transparent and effective competition policy could be a key factor both for enhancing the attractiveness of a national economy to foreign investment, and for maximizing benefits of such investment.
3) International Cooperation
Most of developed countries begin to support developing countries to
enact the competition laws in parallel with the WTO. For example, the EU
helps transition countries to adapt competition laws. Also Japan Fair Trade
Commission (JFTC) has assisted Asian counties. Before Thailand enacted
its competition law, JFTC organized some conferences with Thai officials.
In spite of these efforts, only 67 countries have laid down competition laws and it is not clear how transparently those authorities enforce them.
Regarding measures to strengthen international cooperation, some authorities, eg. US-Canada, US- EU, and US-Japan, have begun to cooperate each other since the 1990’s. These efforts are crucial for effective application of competition laws in the international field. They are indeed the first step, but do not go far enough.
4) Conclusion Remarks
Trade liberalization and globalization have increased needs for transparent
and rules-based enforcement of competition law in the international level.
Although developing common standard is important, its practice is more essential. American Bar Association made a report and suggested that the standardization of notification in this field should be modeled in use in US. Although it is not yet clear what kind of standards is good, it is clear that two of the proponents of multilateralism, EU and Japan, can and should exercise joint leadership in the negotiations in the WTO. It may will be effective to prevent unilateralism.