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Five Eyes international action against collusion in trade.

Editorial Staff

They are going to have trouble : is it "cartel," "monopoly," "anti-trust"....?

The UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Australia are forming a working group to identify and act against illegal conduct in international supply chains.

And the US will get to use its terminology because, on the face of it, it gets two votes.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is part of the Department of Justice. So when the new group was announced, it was immediately clear that it would be dominated by the USA. Why? Because both the FBI and the DoJ get seats at the table, prima facie giving the USA in general and the DoJ in particular two votes. For sure it gets two voices.

The other members of the group are Australia's Consumer and Competition Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau, New Zealand's Commerce Commission and UK's Competition and Markets Authority. So five countries but six members.

The impetus for the formation of the group has been the dramatic increase in freight rates and in consumer prices during the past two years and which has been blamed on supply chain issues caused by the CoVid-19 pandemic. As the world starts to open up, there is an expectation that the cost of freigt will fall and that as goods move around more freely there will be increased competition amongst suppliers.

It's a development of the Five Eyes alliance that initially focused on security but has the capacity to cover a far wider scope.

This new working group complements a number of existing formal and informal cooperation agreements with competition agencies in the US, UK, Canada and NZ, designed to improve the effectiveness 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 behaviour.

In September 2020, the Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Framework for Competition Authorities (MMAC) was established by the US Department of Justice, US Federal Trade Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the New Zealand Commerce Commission, the Competition Bureau Canada, and the ACCC.

The nations of the Five Eyes alliance have separate intelligence sharing arrangements between security agencies.

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