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RESULTS of the PROJECT UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform Geneva 7 July 2013 Eleanor Fox, New York University School of Law Deborah Healey, University.

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Presentation on theme: "RESULTS of the PROJECT UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform Geneva 7 July 2013 Eleanor Fox, New York University School of Law Deborah Healey, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 RESULTS of the PROJECT UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform Geneva 7 July 2013 Eleanor Fox, New York University School of Law Deborah Healey, University of New South Wales The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNCTAD

2  1 The problem  2 The UNCTAD research platform project  To what extent do national competition laws proscribe undue restraints by the state?  as market actor, as sovereign  3 Findings  4 Observations and comment  5 Conclusions:  Suggested principles  A project for global norms 2

3  Imagine a world in which there is antitrust law  BUT all state acts and state-facilitated acts are exempt  The State can strangle the space for the market  and often does, catering to officials and vested interests  This is the plight of (especially) many developing countries  The State is often their BIGGEST competition problem  But the State is often a benefactor, or should be  How to draw a line between rogue acts, merely unwisely anticompetitive acts, and legitimate acts? 3

4  But the challenges have been met by a number of jurisdictions, at least on the books  Mexico  Chile  China  Pakistan  Russia  Spain  Lithuania  among others 4

5  The UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform  Eleanor Fox (New York University) and Deborah Healey (U. of New South Wales), with  Michal Gal (Haifa), Kusha Haraksingh (West Indies), Mor Bakhoum (Dakar and Munich), and Ulla Schwager and Ebru Gökçe (UNCTAD)  Assembled data from 33 nations to determine how far their competition laws reach to catch anticompetitive state restraints  This is not principally about advocacy  This project does not analyze state aids or competitive neutrality 5

6  Is anticompetitive behavior of the state, through  1) SOE business conduct  2) hybrid state/private acts and/or  3) measures  an important, feasible target for antitrust law?  If yes, what principles might serve as a model? 6

7  Australia Barbados Brazil  China  European Union  Greece  Guyana  Hong Kong  Hungary  India  Italy  Jamaica  Japan  Kazakhstan  Kenya  Korea  Lithuania.  Malaysia  Mauritius  Mexico  Pakistan  Poland  Russia  Serbia  Seychelles  Singapore  Spain  Sweden  Switzerland  Trinidad & Tobago  Tunisia  Turkey  United States 7

8  Does your competition law cover SOEs?  Does your competition law cover entities to which the state has granted special or exclusive rights or privileges, and with what exceptions (such as EU TFEU Section 106)?  Does your competition law cover anticompetitive state and local measures (such as China’s AML against abuse of administrative monopoly, and laws against provincial restraints of trade)?  Does your competition law allow for a state action defense  shielding public and private anticompetitive conduct ordered or encouraged by the state? How broad or narrow?  What remedies are available against the state  and are they actually applied ? 8

9  1a. Does your country’s competition law cover SOE’s?  All 33, yes  China included despite an ambiguity  1b. With what exceptions?  E.g., when conducting (non-business) activities in exercise of governmental authority  When SOE is entrusted with services of general economic interest (further covered below, Q. 5a)  Malaysia: when conducting activities based on principle of solidarity  A number of nations have no exceptions, make no distinction: Seychelles, Kenya, Hungary 9

10  Spain For participating in anticompetitive agreements: In 1997, La Lactaria Española S.A., a public enterprise with the Ministry of Agriculture, was sanctioned with a fine of € 1.01 million for leading a cartel of industrial dairy firms that agreed on the basic prices, quality bonuses and discounts for raw milk. Total fines € 6.61 million  For abusing dominant positions: La Sociedad Estatal Correos y Telégrafos, the State postal service, a 100% State- owned public limited company, was fined for abuse of dominance, € 5.4 million and € 15 million  The postal service took advantage of its monopoly position to prevent new entrants into an adjacent liberalized market.

11  5a. Does your statute cover public entities and entities to which the state has granted special or exclusive rights or privileges?  23 yes, 10 no  sometimes as in EU – except to the extent necessary to carry out mandatory obligations 11

12  6. Does your country’s law prohibit certain anticompetitive acts of state bodies such as administrative authorities?  20 yes, 13 no  Cf. China prohibits abuse of administrative monopoly  see State measures below  Tunisia :  The Competition Council has competence to sue administrative authorities when the economic activity goes beyond the public service mission for which they are vested 12

13  Sweden  If petitioned by the Competition Authority, individual companies or an industry organisation, the Stockholm City Court may prohibit the state, a municipality or a county council from conducting certain sales practices. A municipality or county council may also be barred from conducting activities that are incompatible with the law. This means that municipalities, county councils and state authorities – just like public sector controlled legal entities – may be barred from conducting commercial activities in a certain manner if they distort competition for private companies.  It is still early to evaluate but so far clear positive results have been seen. 13

14  7. Does your competition law apply against the state (or its officials) complicit in bidding rings and preferences … in awarding state contracts?  14 yes, 19 no  Poland  The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection may institute antimonopoly proceedings if procurement requests to bid are discriminatory or have an anticompetitive effect. As a result of the proceedings, the President of the Office can issue a decision imposing a maximum fine of 10% of past year’s revenue 14

15  9a. Does your competition law proscribe state or local government measures that  1. limit entry of goods from other localities  11 yes, 21 no  2. discriminate against outsiders or block markets  12 yes, 19 no  3. procurement requests-to-bid that contain anticompetitive specifications  12 yes, 17 no 15

16  Lithuania  The Law on Competition (Article 4): “ … Entities of public administration shall be prohibited from adopting legal acts or other decisions which grant privileges to or discriminate against any individual undertakings.. which.. may give rise to differences in the conditions of competition for undertakings competing in the relevant market, except where the difference in the conditions of competition cannot be avoided [because of] the requirements of the laws...” … The Competition Council has power to oblige the state body to abolish or amend the measure concerned in order to conform with the competition rules…  Most infringements concern unlawful public procurement by municipalities’ awarding contracts to certain undertakings (mostly to SOEs) without any competitive process 16

17  Mexico. The constitution of Mexico establishes that state and municipal authorities shall not perform acts or issue rules with the aim or effect of:  a) Charging fees on the transit of people or things across their territory  b) Prohibiting or imposing fees on entry or exit to the territory of national or foreign merchandising, directly or indirectly. ***  d) Issuing fiscal laws.. that impose differences of taxes or requirements due to the origin of national or foreign merchandise … The FCC may initiate a procedure to determine if there is a violation and refer matters to the general attorney. 17

18  The FCC is authorized to ensure that free competition principles are observed by administrative authorities at the three levels of government (Fraction XVII, Art. 24 FLEC). ***  Fraction VIII  “[May] issue … binding opinion in matters of economic competition, to dependencies and organizations of the federal public administration, with respect to drafts of dispositions, rules, agreements, circulars and other administrative acts of general character that they intend to issue, when they can have opposite effects to the competition process and free competition. … ” 18

19  Art 35. Strengthening of the Competition and Market Authority  1. 21bis - Powers of the Competition and Market Authority in relation to administrative measures which cause distortion of competition The Competition and Market Authority is hereby granted standing to take judicial action against general administrative acts, regulations and any government measures that violates the rules protecting competition and the market. 2. The Competition and Market Authority, if it considers that the government has enacted an act in violation of the rules protecting competition and the market shall, within sixty days, issue a reasoned opinion indicating the specific types of violations found. If the government fails to comply within sixty days following the notification of the opinion, the Authority can file an appeal … 19

20  12. May private parties assert a state action/involvement defense? 14 yes 17 no  What limits to the defense?  May be limited to state orders– J amaica, Lithuania, Spain  Korea, Article 58: “ This Act shall not apply to acts of an entrepreneur or trade association committed in accordance with any Acts or decree ”  Administrative guidance does not shield private acts  EU: Private parties may escape antitrust liability for conduct only when the member state orders the conduct or eliminates all scope for competition  US: defense available when the state clearly articulates what the private firm must do and actively supervises anticompetitive conduct  Malaysia: only when the state orders the conduct or requests and supervises it  Serbia and Turkey : …  The defense is also available when the state merely encourages the conduct 20

21 Lithuania: Mitigating circumstances when imposing fine  Where agreement was induced by state body  Competition Council reduced fines by 20% where public authority was not only aware but encouraged. 20 Jan nr Spain  The possibility that the offenders acted in the belief that their conduct was legal is taken into account within the principle of legitimate expectations, which prevents the Public Administrations from, surprisingly and unreasonably, betraying an expectation of legality generated by their actions. This principle is closely linked to the general principle of good faith, as well as to that of legal certainty, which enlightens the entire legal system. 21

22  EU antitrust rules apply to any conduct engaged in by undertakings on their own initiative. If e.g. prices set by an undertaking have been approved by a regulator, this does not absolve the undertaking from responsibility under EU competition rules (Case 123/83 BNIC (1985) ; Case T-271/03, Deutsche Telekom v Commission 2008). If national law merely encourages or makes it easier for undertakings to engage in autonomous anticompetitive conduct, EU competition rules remain applicable. Deustche Telekom [contributed by Spain] 22

23  All 33 statutes cover, or do not exclude, SOEs  although a number have exceptions  Entities granted special or exclusive rights  23 yes (covered), 10 no  Coverage of state bodies, e.g. administrative authorities  20 yes, 13 no  Rigged procurement, bid rigging in procurement  14 yes, 19 no – competition law applies  A little commerce clause (free movement)  11 yes, 21 no (for goods)  State action defense: 14 yes, 17 no 23

24  EU TFEU 106 (1)  Re public undertakings and those with exclusive rights  Member states may not enact any measure contrary to the competition rules  TEU 4(3)- duty of sincere cooperation not to undermine Treaty  *Thus, Post Office with exclusive franchise cannot prevent private delivery even if the state gives it the exclusive right; PO cannot extend its monopoly to adjacent market; state cannot give preferential supply of scarce raw material if this means that the beneficiary is bound to harm the market; state cannot organize a cartel and order private firms to carry it out 24

25  Eastern Europe and Russia  Competition law as important tool for transition to markets  Centralized local governments controlled terms of trade  Local governments and officials held major interests in business  They threatened to defeat the economic and political reforms  Competition laws robustly cover state and local acts  Especially exclusive rights that block the market  Much enforcement against state and local restraints R. Boner 25

26  This project is about what competition law does or could usefully do  The problem we target is serious market-harming anticompetitive acts of states  unnecessary to satisfy a public interest of the state  giving generous range to the state to decide its public interests  This problem (beyond SOEs as market competitors) could be addressed four ways  It is a political question for the state and its polity (democracy)  It can be handled by advocacy  It can in some cases be handled by other more specific laws: procurement/corruption; free movement; fraud  It can/should be a subject for competition law  within a range, perhaps as staked out by some nations’ laws 26

27  We advocate the fourth choice  More robust competition laws to deal with seriously anticompetitive state acts  while flanked with advocacy, pursuant to methodologies for identifying target laws, using the OECD toolkit and ICN initiative  There are serious questions as to what is appropriate and possible within jurisdictions  Perhaps those jurisdictions that need the authority to proceed the most are least likely to obtain it from their legislatures  Practical ability to enforce – a relevant consideration 27

28  Within the range of what is possible and appropriate within a jurisdiction, we propose the following six principles: 28

29 1.SOEs should not be excluded from the coverage of competition laws. 2. State officials acting outside of their official duties should not be excluded from the coverage of competition laws. 3.Enterprises with exclusive privileges and special obligations to serve the public should not be excluded from the coverage of competition laws except as necessary or important to carry out their public mandate. 4.State action defenses to shield private parties from liability for anticompetitive acts or agreements should be narrowly drawn. 5. Where common markets are concerned, law should integrate free movement, state restraint and competition principles along lines of the European Union. 6.Federal systems with principles of federal supremacy should consider robust doctrines of preemption by federal competition law of excessively anticompetitive state measures. 29

30  The proposed principles or some version of them can be a basis for formulation of aspirational global norms  Building on UNCTAD and OECD research  UNCTAD might formulate options that could serve as models for developing countries  ICN might discuss with a view toward adopting recommended practices 30

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