Competition compliance programs: The experience of Latin America

In Latin America, the development of public policies aimed at increasing economic growth through trade liberalization, the promotion of innovation, the modernization of its industrial fabric and the adoption of measures to facilitate digitalization and improve respect for the environment are bearing fruit. However, due to the COVID -19 pandemic and the cascading crises that followed economic growth in Latin America has slowed down since 2020.

To achieve better results, these policies must be combined with effective competition policies. Competition policy plays an essential role in the pursuit of all other public policies and allows the benefits of economic development and market liberalization to reach all consumers. Regional cooperation and intra-regional trade must also be seriously enhanced to accelerate economic development.

Competition compliance programs which encourage companies to implement measures to prevent and detect competition infringements are likely to prevent anticompetitive conduct and reduce the overall burden of investigations on competition authorities.

A survey of Latin American competition authorities shows that most of the authorities surveyed already have some kind of program to promote competition compliance in place, and approximately half of the competition authorities surveyed take the extent of any efforts by a company to ensure competition compliance into account when setting sanctions for infringements of competition law.

Most of the surveyed authorities intend to engage in further activities to promote competition compliance, with the most common measure being the introduction of compliance systems into companies’ operations. The survey also identifies common collaboration partners for competition authorities in their activities to promote compliance.

Informed by the survey of Latin American competition authorities and a study of best practices on competition compliance from international organizations and competition authorities around the world, this report sets out some recommendations for Latin American competition authorities to consider as they introduce or take their compliance programs forward.

Structure of the report:

  • Part one aims to establish whether Competition authorities and courts in South and Central America have compliance programs, including whether they take a company’s compliance efforts into account when assessing sanctions in cases of legal infringements, and if so, to what extent.
  • Part two identifies international best practices from different countries, institutions and jurisdictions.
  • Part three drafts practical recommendations for action based upon the initial assessment as well as on the international best practices, as voluntary guidance and aid for the respective authorities.

The recommendations aim to contribute to improve Latin American competition authorities’ compliance programs and to facilitate their adoption in a regionally consistent manner, as this could promote convergence, facilitating cooperation between national competition authorities and with courts and increasing awareness raising by companies and their competition compliance.

This can improve the predictability and legal certainty of business environments within a region with significant cross-border trade and investment and where market integration is important.