Antitrust authorities in the U.S. will sign later this summer an agreement with their counterparts in China to collaborate in reviewing mergers that need to be cleared by both countries, a top Justice Department official said Friday.
The DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission, and three agencies in China will sign on July 27 a memorandum of understanding, Antitrust Division chief Christine Varney said at a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a breakthrough moment for us,” Varney said.
The agreement will allow the agencies to conduct joint reviews, exchange information, and work together on matters in front of regulators in both countries, Varney said.
The memorandum resembles a two-decade agreement in place between U.S. and European antitrust enforcers. That cooperation has been expanding to other countries in the past few years.
The agencies signed a similar agreement with Russia in 2009, and is drafting one with Indian authorities.
“These are our stepping stones to get us further along the line of a universal commitment to procedural fairness, due process, and transparency,” Varney said.
As emerging economies put in place antitrust regimes, the business community has raised concerns that foreign regulators could use competition laws to promote their own trade interests.
“An MOU among competition agencies will not cure this problem, but it is a first step,” Varney said.
In an 18-minute speech at the top business lobby, Varney defended her two-year record at the helm of the Antitrust Division.
“Many of you, either with gleeful anticipation or with horrified anticipation, thought I had a big agenda, and I was going to go around using Section Two to devastate or liberate the American economy,” Varney said, referring to her decision to withdraw a controversial Bush-era report on the section of antitrust law that deals with monopolies as one of her first acts on the job.
“You were wrong,” she said. “I didn’t have an agenda, I don’t have an agenda,” she said.