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Global competition policy and market access Burton, Andrew James

Abstract

The issue of global competition policy is particularly topical at the moment because, notwithstanding the recent breakdown in talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference at Cancun in September 2003, competition policy is very much on the world trade agenda. In this thesis I focus on a particular approach to global competition policy which I describe as the "market access approach". I argue that this approach impinges too greatly on national sovereignty and is also incoherent with both current trade obligations and the needs of the global economy. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the global competition debate and describes how the market access approach fits into the general context. Chapter 2 discusses the market access approach in more detail and argues that, as it seeks to "trump" legitimate domestic competition policy goals, it impacts too greatly on issues of national sovereignty. Chapter 3 examines whether the market access approach can be justified on the basis that it is coherent with existing trade commitments and argues that such an approach goes above and beyond those principles by bringing various public and private practices within the scope of WTO jurisdiction. Chapter 4 looks deeper into the question of the role of competition laws within the world trading system, arguing that a facilitative/regulatory approach is required, guided by the twin standards of efficiency and fairness. Ultimately I conclude that the market access approach is an unsatisfactory solution to the problems posed by the interaction of trade and competition policy and a refocusing of the global competition debate is required.

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