Tempering Antitrust with Industrial Policy?
United States firms are not only faced with efficient foreign competitors; they are also faced with subsidized foreign firms, restricted or closed foreign markets, and national industrial strategies that many claim are intended to target U.S. markets in coordinated ways. Japanese corporations have been the most frequently mentioned beneficiaries of this "new mercantilism," but with the coming of 1992, it is feared that Europe, too, will pursue such policies to favor its national firms. So a call has been made, as it has at other times of economic distress, to relax antitrust and permit greater collaboration among U.S. firms to meet these new challenges.
Those who assert a need for antitrust modification have concentrated their case in the area of high technology. It is here that U.S. industry has often been compared unfavorably with its more advanced Japanese (and increasingly European) competitors. The need for successful U.S. firms in these areas seems obvious, not only as a matter of economic prosperity but, as the Cold War fades, as a matter of national strength. The result has been an increasing number of legislative proposals -- some targeted at particular industries, such as high-definition television, and others written more generally -- to expand the range of permissible collaborative efforts in production and even marketing. 1 Beyond this, many urge a more permissive attitude toward mergers of U.S. firms when undertaken to meet foreign firm competition, as well as restrictions on foreign firms that seek to acquire U.S. companies in important high technology areas. 2
Is there a need to temper antitrust in the face of international competition? Professor Harry First of New York University School of Law addresses this question in the first essay in this part. His focus is on proposals that have been made to help industries "in distress" because of international competition, and his point of reference is the semiconductor industry. Canvassing law and policy, and using new strategic trade theories,