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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Political economists have long recognized increased competition in product markets as a key benefit of free trade. Antitrust law and enforcement is supposed to achieve the same end by intervening directly against price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other forms of anticompetitive behavior and abuses of market power. And indeed, trade policy and competition policy have been deeply intertwined since the late nineteenth century. This chapter provides an overview of different ways of thinking theoretically about the relationship between the international integration of product markets and competition law and enforcement. It shows that the dominant approaches in economics and law suffer from being either devoid of politics or relying on a model of politics that deprives both firms and competition regulators of transnational/governmental agency. It sketches a more overtly political approach that can explain the simultaneous spread of competition law and trade openness in the last two decades.

Keywords: antitrust, competition law, competition policy, cartels, collusion, mergers, acquisitions, market power, trade, regulation

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