Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Justice Department, FTC Enter into Cooperation Agreement with Chinese Antitrust Agencies

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission announced today that they have entered into a cooperation agreement with China’s three antitrust agencies. The new Memorandum of Understanding was signed on July 27 in Beijing and took effect immediately.

The U.S. antitrust agencies have similar agreements with a number of other foreign counterparts. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice and FTC announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Chile.

This latest agreement sets out a framework for cooperation between the U.S. antitrust agencies and the People’s Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce, and State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The document calls for joint dialogue on competition policy at the senior official level. It also envisions ad hoc working groups to facilitate discussions on particular issues.

In addition, the agreement anticipates communication and cooperation on competition law enforcement and policy between individual U.S. antitrust agencies and PRC antimonopoly agencies. Under the agreement, the U.S. antitrust agencies and each of the PRC antimonopoly agencies, individually, may engage in communication and cooperation, separate from the joint dialogue, at the senior or working level. The agreement also notes that, “when a U.S. antitrust and a PRC antimonopoly agency are investigating related matters, it may be in those agencies’ common interest to cooperate in appropriate cases, consistent with those agencies’ enforcement interests, legal constraints, and available resources.”


The agencies do not intend to exchange confidential information “if the communication is prohibited by the laws governing the agency possessing the information or would be incompatible with that agency’s interests.” When information is communicated, the agencies have agreed to maintain its confidentiality to the extent consistent with applicable laws.

Antitrust Chief’s Remarks

“Our cooperative relationship with the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has steadily strengthened,” said Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. “This memorandum of understanding is a reflection of that relationship, and, by establishing a framework for enhanced cooperation among our agencies, the MOU also allows us to move to the next chapter in our collaboration on competition law and policy matters.”

FTC Chairman’s Statement

“In the three years since China’s antimonopoly law came into effect, its enforcement agencies have risen in prominence and have quickly developed many of the important analytical techniques used by leading antitrust agencies around the world,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “We look forward to continuing to share our experiences with China’s enforcement agencies as they confront many of the same challenges in implementing their laws that other agencies have faced, and we are confident that China will continue to build its agencies and enforcement mechanisms in positive ways.”

The text of the agreement with the Chinese authorities will appear at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶13,512. The Memorandum of Understanding with Chile appears at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶13,511.

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