Elizabeth Wang joined speakers from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Japan Fair Trade Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, Facebook and King’s College London on a panel during the 2021 Innovation Economics conference to discuss the differences and similarities in antitrust enforcement towards online platforms across the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Elizabeth Wang explained that the Chinese experience is particularly relevant to the debate on platforms. Very recently, Chinese regulators from three different ministries organized a meeting that invited 34 platform companies operating over a wide range of services to discuss regulation in the platform space. What they have in common is the dynamic and disruptive nature of many of the entities. As they differ from most previous business models, the concern is that a “one size fits all” platform regulation will not be flexible enough to consider all those new and dynamic aspects of platforms.
Another risk is focusing on the basic structure type of factors rather than on competitive effects. There are well-established antitrust economic theories and empirical methods available to help develop and test anti-competitive conduct in the digital economy. For example, Chinese agencies are currently investigating potential exclusionary conduct by firms that are suspected to have imposed anti-competitive restrictions on platform access. These types of conduct, even though they are carried out by digital platforms, are quite typical conducts that have been dealt with over many decades in antitrust case law. Experience has left us with a well-established framework and economic evidence to understand when and where those conducts have pro-competitive effects and when and where they have anti-competitive effects. An effects-based analysis can still prove useful and should prevent us from rushing towards ex ante regulation.
Watch the event recording:
The Innovation Economics Conference for Antitrust Lawyers, organized by Concurrences and King’s College London, took place online between 27 – 30 April 2021. All materials from this webinar are available on the Concurrences website.