Chicago Journal of International Law


Today, according to US Department of Justice spokespersons, there are over ninety countries with competition laws, and those countries collectively account for nearly 80 percent of world production. Those numbers furnish some evidence that the philosophy of competition law has indeed spread to all corners of the globe, and that the first step toward international harmonization has already been accomplished. Yet the picture is not quite as rosy as this might suggest: these laws differ from one another, sometimes subtly, sometimes unabashedly so. That fact raises a number of questions that are the topic of this article: How different, as of 2002, are the various competition laws in reality? Are these differences anything we should be worried about, and if so, why? Finally, assuming that the case for harmonization has been made, what models are available to accomplish this goal, and which one should we adopt? I will argue that significant differences do persist, even between such like- minded entities as the United States and the European Union, and to a greater degree between the kinds of countries one finds in the Group of Seven ("G-7") and countries that are still working through the transition from socialism to liberal democratic capitalism, or between the G-7 and the developing countries. While these differences impose certain costs on the world economy, and it seems likely that those costs could be reduced if harmonization were possible, I argue further that a tortoise-like approach to harmonization is the one that will win the race more effectively over the long run, and that it would be unwise to push too fast for global competition law standards. [CONT]