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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 25 No 2 (2007) Law and Finance

Competition Regulation in SAFTA, AUSFTA and TAFTA: A Spaghetti Bowl of Competition Provisions?

Jane Rennie is a Lecturer in the School of Law at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her research area is competition provisions in free trade agreements, focusing on recent bilateral undertakings by Australia. Her paper appearing in this volume was awarded the Best Paper Award (PhD Student) at the 14th Global Finance Conference in April 2007.

The proliferation of bilateral trade deals has been derided as resulting in a complex and sometimes contradictory web of preferences to the detriment of non-members and the multilateral trading system. Compounding the claims of detractors, the current trend is towards ‘deep integration’ whereby agreements incorporate peripheral aspects of bilateral regulation. Competition regulation is one area over which governments are eager to extend coverage. This begs the question; do the systemic problems attributed to preferential trade afflict compet­ition provisions within? This question is answered by examining competition provisions in Australia’s newest free trade agreements: SAFTA, AUSFTA and TAFTA. Ultimately, differences in regulatory styles between these and substantive liberalising provisions mean that relationships between individual competition chapters are not beset by incoherence. Moreover, the subject matter of the competition provisions is not compatible with discriminatory application in favour of mem­bers. However, gains in global welfare are offset by the failure of these agreements to address regulatory inefficiencies leading to decreases in business welfare.

(2007) 25 No 2 Law in Context 127

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