Maintaining Open Markets in the Global Economy
Chapter 9: Attempts at International Co-operation
I INTRODUCTION The problems discussed in the previous chapters and the need for some international policy response have been recognised for at least half a century. The economic conditions may change and affect the urgency with which they are considered but the fundamental problems remain. Thus, in the aftermath of the highly restrictive trade policies pursued by many countries and the growth of international cartels in the face of the Depression of the 1930s, international negotiations for freeing world trade after World War II had on the agenda mechanisms for regulating international competition. In subsequent decades, as the growth of world trade accelerated, accompanied by the rapid development of multinational enterprises, renewed attempts were made to coordinate the regulation of competition at an international level. For some observers the incorporation of comprehensive competition policy provisions into the founding treaties of what is now the European Union provided a model for much wider international co-operation. Others saw this as such a special case, applicable only to a group of fairly homogeneous states at approximately the same level of development, that it could provide little guidance for any wider arrangements. A number of countries have therefore preferred to negotiate limited co-operative agreements with one or two of their major trading partners. The WTO has recognised the need for urgent action on competition issues to ensure that the progress made over many decades on reducing direct barriers to trade is not neutralised by private arrangements amongst companies to restrict competition. The subsequent sections...
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