Global efforts to prevent anticompetitive behavior in the supply and distribution of goods will be boosted by a new task force announced today between the ACCC, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau Competition Commission, the New Zealand Commerce Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority.
The five competition authorities will focus on illegal behavior, including collusion, in global supply chains, in light of pandemic-induced disruptions that have resulted in much higher freight rates and more expensive goods for consumers.
“The global freight supply chain is a complex web involving many jurisdictions, so the natural detection of anti-competitive behavior requires strong international partnerships,” said ACCC President Rod Sims.
“COVID-19 has caused the supply chain disruptions the world is currently experiencing, but the purpose of this task force is to detect any attempt by companies to use these conditions as a cover to work together and fix prices. “
“We will share intelligence to identify any behavior that restricts or distorts competition, and businesses are now on notice that the ACCC and its international counterparts will be ready to act,” Sims said.
Increased demand for containerized freight and severe global supply chain congestion have caused disruptions and delays in most sectors of the economy, from agriculture to healthcare.
Freight rates on major global trade routes are now about seven times higher than two years ago.
“Australia is an open and trade-exposed economy, and like the other international agencies in this task force, we have a very strong interest in preserving strong competitive markets for global trade,” Mr Sims said.
The types of anticompetitive behavior the task force will monitor include cartels and any other activity that has a significant impact on competition, such as exclusionary agreements by firms with market power.
This new task force complements a number of existing formal and informal cooperation agreements with competition agencies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, designed to improve efficiency and efficiency of competition investigations that span multiple jurisdictions.
In April 2019, the ACCC signed a cooperation agreement with the FBI to combat cartels and other anti-competitive behavior.
In September 2020, the Multilateral Framework for Mutual Assistance and Cooperation for Competition Authorities (MMAC) was established by the United States Department of Justice, the United States Federal Trade Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, New Zealand Commerce Commission, Competition Bureau Canada and ACCC.
The nations of the Five Eyes alliance have separate intelligence-sharing agreements between security agencies.
Further information is available on ACCC Treaties and Agreements.