Latin American antitrust authorities share concerns on digital markets, president of Brazil competition authority says

16 February 2023 18:04 by Paula Mariane

Brazilian competition authority

Latin American antitrust authorities share common concerns about digital markets, and there is an increasing tendency towards fostering cooperation among the agencies, the president of the Brazilian competition authority, Alexandre Cordeiro, told MLex in an interview.

Cordeiro said antitrust authorities are very concerned, as digital platforms "are getting bigger and bigger," which increases the need to monitor potential abuses of dominant positions and discrimination against competitors.

He said Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense, or CADE, has been consulted on the matter, and has shared its views on digital markets.

"Brazil is a country that has an important representation in Latin America, a country with a large consumer market. It is often the first or second consumer country of these large platforms," he told MLex.

Latin cooperation

Antitrust agencies have also strengthened their cooperation and experience-exchange agreements, Cordeiro said. "The tendency is for there to be greater unity in Latin America.” He said that CADE has been learning a lot from the Latin authorities. "We have done many events together and made visits to these bodies.”

Argentine and Dominican competition authorities this month signed a cooperation agreement aimed at sharing experiences about anticompetitive practices and discussing legal mechanisms to address them.

The Ecuadorian competition authority, the Superintendence of Market Power Control, or (SCPM), has been collaborating with Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission, or Cofece, on competition advocacy and market studies, especially digital markets.

Additionally, SCPM has been looking at regulations related to digital markets, and issuing recommendations to ensure competition.

Recent decision

One of CADE's most recent decisions involving digital markets was on the planned automobile joint venture between carmakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen, along with seven major auto parts firms. In the first ruling session of this year, the agency blocked the deal.

The deal involves a platform that would allow applicants to exchange information about products and processes related to the auto industry. Companies involved in the deal are Mercedes, BMW, VW, BASF, Henkel, SAP, Schaeffler, Siemens, T-Systems International and ZF Friedrichshafen.

In December, the agency’s Tribunal approved the deal conditioned on a strict behavioral remedy package to address concerns mostly with the exchange of information. However, in January, the parties withdrew their notification of the deal with CADE, saying remedies sought by the agency were "practically impossible" to implement.

“Here in Brazil, we understood that the operation was concerned with the possibility of exchanging sensitive information. That's why we set some conditions to safeguard that there wouldn't be this exchange of sensitive information, and they didn't accept,” Cordeiro said.

Cordeiro said that because the companies have facilities in Brazil, and export cars and auto parts to the country, it would be challenging to exclude the country from the transaction.

“I cannot see how Brazil will be excluded from the operation,” he said.

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