The 16th session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy took place in Geneve from 5-7 July 2017.
Q: What is Russia experience regarding international cooperation?
A: International cooperation is one of the priorities of the Federal Antimonology Service (FAS). For many years, we fruitfully and effectively cooperated with Competition Authorities of many countries as well as international organizations. We have close relations with Competition Authorities and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). We are currently working a lot in BRICS format. We have also established International Working Groups to discuss key competition issues. Such working groups focus on the food, pharma, IT and automobile industries.
The FAS Russia has more than 58 bilateral and multilateral agreements on cooperation with foreign Competition Authorities. They stipulate different forms and procedures of interaction, including exchange of non-confidential information, discussion of issues of mutual interest, conducting seminars and workshop, etc.
In 2015-2016 the FAS Russia investigated a number of cases in relation to large transnational corporations which exercise their activity worldwide. In particular, these are the case against Google, Apple, Microsoft (the decision has not been made yet) and liner shipping companies.
Head of Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation
These investigations show that the existing frequently-used simple tools of cooperation are not enough to combat restrictive business practices of such companies. In the process of investigating cross-border cases, we identified a number of problems that need to be resolved to improve the efficiency of cooperation and reach practical results.
One of the problems of international cooperation in investigating cross-border cases is existing differences in the legislation of different jurisdictions, which complicate the process of joint investigations. There are differences in notification procedures, differences in basic definitions, establishing in national laws, and different sanction for the same violation under different jurisdictions. This clearly proves the need to put in unified basic rules and principles of cooperation.
Exchange of confidential information still remains one of the important of effective cooperation between Competition Authorities in different jurisdictions. This problem consists of the aspect of the lack of trust between authorities and issues of legal technique. Fruitful informal cooperation could hardly transform into formal exchange of confidential information because of the absence of the "new level" agreements. Moreover, effective mechanism of protection of confidential information from disclosure on the territory of foreign country doesn't exist at international level.
In addition to the issues of legal framework, there are many unresolved challenges concerning notification and serving of documents to foreign defendants and their translation, fine imposition on a foreign legal entity, procedure of joint dawn raids or inspections by request from the Competition Authority if business entities located in foreign countries.
All the challenges mentioned above have a global scale and affect not only the activity of the Russian Competition Authority but the activity of all the Competition Agencies. Due to rapid globalization of markets, creation of new highly innovative spheres, we could predict that the cases on violation on competition legislation, which have truly global scale, will increase in numbers in the upcoming years.
In the context of finding common solution of such problems the FAS Russia suggests to initiate process of formulation and adoption of the international document which will include effective tools of international cooperation in combating restrictive business practices of transnational corporations as well as to foster adoption of international convention on fighting the most serious type of anticompetitive behavior which are international cartels.
Q: What are your expectations regarding the 16t Session of the Intergovernmental Groups of Expert meeting?
A: We have shared our experience of international cooperation and also challenges we faced with trans-border violations and companies which operate in the world wide scale. We proposed to start discussions with the various authorities in order to come up with more robust systems to better manage all cross border activities.
The document we presented clearly highlighted practical tools and procedures of cooperation. As a starting point we created a draft Toolkit on international cooperation in combating restrictive business practices of transnational corporations.
Q: What can be UNCTAD's contribution in this area?
A: We believe that such a legal document should be adopted on the global platform. As such, UNCTAD has a unique platform with convening power to bring together representatives of Competition Authorities from all over the world. Moreover, UNCTAD Secretariat provides overviews and background materials on many competition-related topics. That is why it is very important to build the discussion group on the UNCTAD platform.
The challenges described are our joint problems, we believe that we could reach consensus on the topic and the Toolkit could be adopted as an Annex to the Section F of the UN Set on Competition during the Review Conference in 2020.
We are very thankful for UNCTAD's support of our initiative, we are absolutely sure that joint work on the UNCTAD platform will contribute to the enhancing of international cooperation of the Competition Authorities worldwide for the benefits of all consumers.