As a new year and new administration begins, the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) reiterates key priorities for competition enforcement and policy. In September 2016, the AAI issued “A National Competition Policy: Unpacking the Problem of Declining Competition and Setting Priorities Moving Forward.” The statement resets the debate over the importance of antitrust enforcement and competition policy in the United States.
The National Competition Policy statement unpacks the increasingly high-profile problems that are symptomatic of declining competition, including rising concentration, declining rates of market entry, and growing inequality. It then suggests three core principles for a National Competition Policy, and sets out seven priorities that should guide the new approach.
President Obama’s April 2016 Executive Order highlighting concerns over declining competition was a “call to arms” and a reminder that competition is a political issue that the next administration must address. But little public commentary has effectively leveraged the apparent consciousness-raising intent of the Executive Order.
“The AAI is taking the next steps,” said Moss. “The value of a National Competition Policy is to chart a course forward by setting the major enforcement priorities for addressing declining competition. Probably the biggest priority – which is written into the subtext of the Executive Order – is simply to acknowledge that we need a National Competition Policy.”
AAI’s principles and priorities for a National Competition Policy come from the organization’s nearly two decades of research, education, and advocacy in competition enforcement and policy. Suggested priorities range from facilitating more aggressive and consistent enforcement to revitalizing the tools available to antitrust enforcers. The AAI also notes the importance of preserving the vital role of private antitrust enforcement, recognizing new sources and abuses of market power, and ramping up antitrust penalties and remedies.
The full National Competition Policy statement and appendix can be downloaded here. The AAI’s 2016 Presidential Transition Report on Competition Policy, which contains more detailed recommendations for specific areas of competition enforcement, can be found here.
Diana Moss, President, American Antitrust Institute