Competition Law Reform in Britain and Japan: Comparative Analysis of Policy Network

By Kenji Suzuki | Go to book overview

1

Introduction

International convergence and policy network of competition law

In autumn 1998, the British Labour government brought to an end the longstanding process of the reform of competition law by the passage of the Competition Act. The new Act was a landmark in the history of British competition law, as it introduced a new regulatory framework, identical to the European Community Law in many ways. Likewise, in Japan, the Anti-monopoly Act (AMA) underwent a number of reforms of competition legislation in the 1990s, including the reinforcement of administrative surcharge and criminal penalty, the liberalisation of holding companies, and the simplification of merger procedures. Those changes were conceived as imports of the Western (particularly American) model, making Japanese competition law appear similar to its Western counterparts.

Apparently, those policy changes marked a general trend of international convergence 1 in the field of competition policy. Policy convergence, or policy transfer, is 'deemed to be on the increase in an era of globalisation', 2 and competition policy is not an exception to this trend. The progress of economic internationalisation has increased the number of international anti-competitive practices, and national competition laws need more harmonisation. The growth of political interactions, in such forms as bilateral trade negotiations and multilateral study forums, also encourages the diffusion of policy instruments from one country to another. International organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) encourage the sharing of knowledge about competition policy for the multinational transfer of standard models. 3 Regional political frameworks such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement also encourage their members to harmonise their practices with others. Consequently, many developed countries recently reformed their competition legislation by introducing policy models applied in other jurisdictions. As early as the late 1990s, OECD remarked that 'there is increasing convergence within the OECD area', and that the progress 'has been made…towards convergence in such areas as objectives and principles of competition laws, analytical tools, enforcement practices and some areas of substantive law such as horizontal agreements and resale price maintenance'. 4 Against those backgrounds, scholars such as Scherer go so far as to envisage the integration into a worldwide

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