Today we publish our global antitrust and trade group’s annual review reporting on the impact on clients that we expect to see in the coming year from changing laws and policies around the world. In particular we expect that political and economic dynamics will have a heavy influence on antitrust enforcement and so on transactional activity and commercial conduct.
Key risks that companies need to keep an eye on in the coming year include:
- New people in some top jobs in the US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have track records which suggest a more conservative approach than the prior administration. Their sharp philosophical divergence from that of EU Commissioner Vestager, who champions some novel and far-reaching theories motivated by notions of fair competition, could lead to trans-Atlantic divergence, so to increased difficulty in getting deals approved, and in setting and defending international commercial strategies;
- The rise of emerging markets is changing the enforcement landscape, as newer, often well-resourced agencies increase enforcement activity in their regions. Many follow EU principles, but important differences in law and interpretation exist. As our recent report showed, noone can afford to ignore the increasing risks posed by antitrust in Asia in global deal planning or corporate compliance; and
- Geo-politics continues to shape enforcement policy as regions face very different economic challenges and political pressures. The re-emergence of protectionism within the G7 and changes in international trade agreements are clear examples of developing laws and policies that are already raising major risks in cross-border trade and investment.