On September 2, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) signed a competition enforcement framework with antitrust agencies in the Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Agreement for Competition Authorities aims to strengthen cooperation among the signatories and provides a template that agencies can use to establish bilateral or multilateral agreements.
These agencies have shared evidence in prior antitrust investigations, particularly in the cartel space. Existing treaties and mutual legal assistance agreements that cover a broad range of criminal matters have enabled competition authorities to share documents and tape recordings on price fixing and market division cases.
The new multinational framework focuses on reinforcing and enhancing those existing international assistance arrangements. The framework includes a memorandum of understanding that enables signatories to share intelligence and experiences to better coordinate investigations across international borders and to collaborate on joint projects. FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons said that the framework “represents a new benchmark in cross-border antitrust cooperation” and will ensure “strong confidentiality safeguards.”
The framework also contains a model agreement that the agencies can use as the foundation for information-sharing and investigative assistance agreements, which is intended to be “broadly reciprocal” and outlines the process for requesting and providing investigative assistance.
According to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, the framework “sets a new standard for enforcement cooperation, strengthening our tools for international assistance and evidence gathering in the increasingly digital and global economy.”