Competition and Concentration in Latin American Emerging Economies

Background

For a long time, during the last century Latin American economies were dominated by deliberate government efforts promoting an inward-looking industrialization, thereby ensuring the proliferation of SOEs in "strategic" intermediate goods' sectors. This promotion was related to the entrepreneurial role of the State, but also to a fragile institutional foundation based on nationalist and protectionist ideologies.

In the 1990s, the region opted for the adoption of drastic structural economic reforms under a free-market agenda, the deregulation of market access and trade liberalisation. Most Latin American economies issued competition laws during this period. The structural political and economic transformation of Latin American countries towards a market economy model was based on the introduction of a legal framework promoting competition and preventing certain forms of non-competitive behaviour and market concentration. Merger control regimes sought to complement the enforcement of behaviour regulations, preventing those M&A operations with a high probability of generating significant impediments to effective competition due to high market concentration levels and the increase of market power.

Although there is no statistically significant correlation between the probability of establishing merger control policies and the size of an economy, Latin American economies exhibit a persistent scepticism with regard to the effective enforcement and economic impact of merger controls. The degree of independence of institutional set-ups represents another controversial issue.

Many Latin American emerging economies have established free trade agreements with strategic partners such as the United States of America, the European Union and many countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Competition Policy chapters have been included in these agreements and all provisions must be implemented at the national level.

An overview of the antitrust regulations within the Latin American region represents a diverse and complex issue. Merger control regimes vary from one jurisdiction to another. There are regimes where merger control is not mandatory or not applicable to all economic sectors.

Although not all Latin American economies share the same features in every single dimension regarding merger controls, either by similarity or by contrast this study serves as a useful benchmark to identify the merger control pattern of individual emerging economies and other legal instruments, such as complementary regulations to foster effective competition.

 

Objectives

The general purpose of this research is to identify the performance outcome and the difficulties Latin American emerging economies have to face when applying merger controls in different economic sectors.

For this reason, the research seeks to establish an analysis and in-depth comparison of the characteristics of merger control regimes applied in a number of Latin American emerging economies. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru have been selected for this survey.

This approach requires a country focus, and is very demanding not only in terms of the legal analysis but also of the institutional knowledge, the economic influence of trade agreements and foreign investments on the country in question. The research is thus not looking for a single factor to explain the difficulties of the antitrust enforcement, but rather for a multiple-factor approach.

 

Project Plan

Phase 1: Analysis and comparison of the legal framework and case studies, identifying the most important characteristics of every merger control regime adopted in the corresponding economy.
Phase 2: Draft of the questionnaire to be sent to the competition authorities, seeking information about the performance outcome reached by applying merger controls, the difficulties or obstacles met during the antitrust enforcement and the measures taken to deal with those limitations.
Phase 3: Sending of questionnaires to the competition authorities and analysis of the answers received, identifying the specific framework for the antitrust enforcement.
Phase 4: Final report with conclusions and antitrust policy recommendations.

 

Current Phase of Implementation

The project is currently in Phase 1.

 

Contact Information

Prof. Tania Zúñiga-Fernández
CEPIC, ESAN University
Lima, PERU

E-mail: tzuniga@esan.edu.pe

Juan Luis Crucelegui
Chief, Capacity Building and Advisory Services Section
Competition and Consumer Policies Branch (CCPB)
UNCTAD

E-mail: Juanluis.Crucelegui@unctad.org

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