Global Governance, Antitrust, and the Limits of International Cooperation


The contemporary world economy make it easier to produce and sell across national borders. The partition of transactions into separate geographical components in turn makes it easier to pick and choose regulatory regimes. Antitrust law has dealt with this problem for nearly a century. At one time it regarded the assignment of a transaction to a particular territory as a prerequisite for the application of its rules; lately it has required much less. As a result, overlapping national regulation has become the dominant structure. Overlapping regulation has its own problems. National regimes may impose inconsistent rules and pursue conflicting ends. In response, regulators and scholars have begun to explore the possibility of international governance. The proposals vary, but at their heart lies a conviction that the inadequacies of national regulation justify the creation of international institutions to promote coordination of national regulatory programs. I argue, in opposition to most commentators, that dispensing with international institutions seems the most promising approach to the problem. Creation of new international institutions to grapple with antitrust or assigning this task to existing organizations presents underappreciated risks, and the status quo of near international anarchy has underappreciated benefits. The growing call by regulators and scholars to widen and deepen international cooperation regarding competition policy needs to be resisted.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation | International Law

Date of this Version

February 2004