The OECD publishes report on the 2024 edition on Competition Trends

On 6 March 2024, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published its report on global competition trends based on data from 77 OECD and non-OECD jurisdictions for the year 2022 (“Report”). The Report outlines the key developments that took place in 2022 mainly in cartel enforcement, abuse of dominance enforcement, advocacy, competition authorities’ resources and merger control.

Competition authorities continue to ramp up recruitment

2022 saw a continued growth in the number of competition stuff for competition authorities, with an overall annual growth of 3.8%. The engagement of additional employees by competition authorities is appropriate and timely considering the new and evolving complex markets, particularly in the digital sector. Such markets require competition authorities to bolster their manpower to ensure that they can understand and address any competition concerns that may be underpinning such markets.

Cartel enforcement on the uptrend

The Report notes that 2022 saw a staggering increase in the number of leniency applications with an annual growth of 23.4% when compared to 2021. This, however, does not mean that competition authorities were not actively trying to uncover cartels themselves through ex officio investigations, which in turn increased by 8.4% in 2022 from the previous year. On the other hand, the amount of cartel decisions in 2022 decreased when compared with 2021, with the manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade markets being the industries with the most cartel decisions.

Abuse of dominance enforcement

Abuse of dominance investigations and decisions decreased across most jurisdictions with a decline of around 25%. Subsequently, fines imposed for abuse of dominance infringements also followed this downtrend. Whilst the average abuse of dominance fine in 2021 was of 42.5 million euro, the average fine in 2022 was of 20.4 million euro.

Merger control

Most OECD jurisdictions saw a decline in merger control notifications, with 24 out of 38 OECD jurisdictions reporting a drop in the number of notifications. This downtrend in merger notifications was mostly observed in Europe with a 12% decrease when compared to 2021. While this trend may be attributable to several factors, rising interest rates and geopolitical tensions at the time, certainly played a part in this decrease.

Another trend observed in merger control in 2022 was an increasingly interventionist approach by competition authorities, be it through the imposition of remedies or through prohibition decisions. Prohibition decisions overwhelmingly relied on horizontal theories of harm and the industries that saw most of the prohibition were the manufacturing, retail trade and transportation industries.

The copy of the full Report can be found here.