EXPORT CARTELS : A Developing Country Perspective
Export cartels are exempted from the competition laws of most countries. While some scholars and several WTO members have recently condemned such cartels, others have argued that they allow efficiency gains that actually promote competition and trade. This paper examines the various issues involved, with special reference to developing countries and to recent discussions on trade and competition policy. After summarising the contending views on export cartels, and also the scanty theoretical literature on the subject, it reviews the treatment of such cartels in various jurisdictions and the limited empirical evidence that is available on their prevalence, efficiency justifications, and effects on international trade. Insights from economic theory are then applied to the arguments for and against export cartels, suggesting criteria that could help to determine their validity and an importing country’s best response. The paper concludes that while importing countries should evaluate foreign export cartels under a “rule of reason”, most of them will be constrained by a lack of technical expertise and limited enforcement capacity. It suggests a novel approach, based on parallels with anti-dumping procedures, which would strengthen their hands.
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