On June 27, 2012, a federal appeals court issued an opinion that reversed prior precedent, extended the reach of federal antitrust law to foreign commerce in certain cases, and revived a class action brought by U.S. purchasers alleging that potash producers had operated a cartel outside the United States that had influenced the price of potash in the United States. Potash is a mineral used primarily in fertilizer. The world market for potash is highly concentrated and U.S. customers account for a high percentage of sales. In part of its opinion the court interpreted an import-related exception to the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA) - foreign trade or commerce that has "direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable" effects on U.S. domestic or import commerce - holding that "for FTAIA purposes, the term 'direct' means only a 'reasonably proximate causal nexus.'" In so holding, the court explicitly endorsed the U.S. Department of Justice's more expansive view of the foreign reach of federal antitrust law, which could give the Antitrust Division increased leverage in negotiating fines and doing volume of commerce calculations.
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Court expands extraterritorial scope of U.S. antitrust law
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