By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.J
A new antitrust cooperation agreement between the Department of Justice and FTC with the foreign competition agencies of Australia, Canada, U.K., and New Zealand aims to strengthen international cooperation efforts.
The Department of Justice and the FTC have signed a new competition enforcement agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Canada Competition Bureau, U.K. Competition & Markets Authority, and New Zealand Commerce Commission. The Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Framework for Competition Authorities (MMAC) will enhance the agencies’ ability to cooperate with their foreign counterparts. The Justice Department and FTC are authorized to enter into cooperation agreements under the International Antitrust Enforcement Assistance Act (IAEAA) and have had an IAEAA agreement with Australia since 1999.
The MMAC, which builds on the antitrust agencies’ existing cooperation agreements, aims to strengthen cooperation between the signatories on existing case coordination as well as sharing collaboration tools, confidential information, cross-border evidence gathering, and inter-agency training initiatives. The Framework also includes a model agreement which is expected to serve as a template for subsequent agreement among the signatories to permit enhanced cooperation in both criminal and civil non-HSR matters. The agreement also recognizes that the signatories will use their best efforts to negotiate and implement bilateral agreements based on the model agreement.
Noting that the agreement sets a new standard for international enforcement cooperation and strengthens evidence gathering in the increasingly digital and global economy, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said, "We hope that it will provide a model for agencies around the world interested in enhancing international cooperation. DOJ looks forward to continuing this important work through the negotiation of the bilateral agreements contemplated in the Framework."
FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons said the agreement "seeks to pave the way for better access to information and investigative assistance from the FTC’s counterparts, while ensuring strong confidentiality safeguards."
In announcing the signing of the agreement, the Canada Competition Bureau noted that "By investing in its relationships with competition agencies and other law enforcement partners, the Bureau can strengthen its ability to protect Canada's competitive marketplace, address cross-border anti-competitive activity, and promote convergence on competition policies internationally."
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