The twentieth century witnessed a heated debate between capitalism and communism over the desirability of competition in the marketplace. Until the last quarter of that century there was a tendency in many parts of the world to favour a tradition of exerting strict control over the planning and management of domestic economies. As the end of the century approached, however, the scene began to change dramatically with a move on the part of many countries from monopolisation to demonopolisation and from state control and planning to liberalisation and privatisation. This important development has enormously contributed to the growing recognition that, on the whole, competition can be regarded as an effective tool for enhancing innovation, furthering economic growth and safeguarding the welfare and social development of countries. Remarkably, the debate seems to have settled in favour of the market mechanism, and this has enhanced the desirability of competition.
The growing recognition of the value of competition has been accompanied by a relentless process of globalisation and a sharp increase in the removal of hindrances to the flows of trade and investment worldwide.1 It has also been accompanied by a considerable increase in the number of countries, which - particularly over the last two decades - have come to recognise not only the desirability of competition but also the need to protect it.2 The law used to protect competition is commonly referred to as ‘antitrust law’, or ‘competition law’.3 Today, nearly 100 jurisdictions have
1 See A. Fiebig, ‘A Role for the WTO in International Merger Control’ (2000) 20 Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business 233, 235. See also pp. 12-15 below for a discussion on globalisation and its implications for antitrust policy.
2 See M. Palim, ‘The World Wide Growth of Competition Law: an Empirical Analysis’ (1998) 43 Antitrust Bulletin 105.
3 ‘Antitrust law’ is the term used in the United States (USA). The term ‘Competition law’ is a synonym used more commonly outside the USA. The term ‘antitrust law’, unlike the concept