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Opening Remarks at 2018 ICN Merger Workshop

ICN Merger Workshop, 7 – 8 November 2018, Tokyo, JAPAN

 Good morning, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome.

 Over 200 participants from about 40 countries or regions have gathered here to join this workshop. As a chairman of Japan Fair Trade Commission, I would like to welcome you all. And I also would like to express my appreciation to USFTC (Federal Trade Commission in US) and UKCMA (Competition and Markets Authority in UK) for helping JFTC to organize this event as ICN merger working group co-chairs.

 There have been significant changes in society and economy around the globe. This is what I am saying in various opportunities. We, competition authorities, are required to enforce competition law and policy correspondingly to those changes. Globalization and Digitalization are the two, but certainly not the only terms, which represent those changes. In considering a theme of this workshop, we thought it would be essential to refer to those two changes. So we set, “what is the ideal merger review corresponding to globalization and digitalization in economy?”, as the theme of this workshop.

 Globalization. Not that this is anything new, but recently it has been accelerated more and more. Almost every week, I read news articles reporting big M&As which affect world market. Actually, one research shows that about 50,000 (fifty thousand) M&As take place in the world per year, and the total value of those M&As reaches to about 3.5 (three point five) trillion US dollars. This is equivalent to the GDP of Germany. Furthermore, it is said that about 30 (thirty) percent in value among those M&As are cross-border M&As. To review those cross-border M&As, I think it is very critical for merger review practices among all of the competition authorities to converge to international standard. I am expecting that the discussion at this workshop leads us to more appropriate practices corresponding to globalization and digitalization in economy. Also cooperation among agencies is essential. We have several topics related to international cooperation among agencies in this workshop. I understand ICN merger working group has actively discussed this issue and I am expecting that the discussion is going to be much deepened on this occasion.

 Next is Digitalization. Nowadays, we can purchase almost all goods or services through the internet. The society where most part of our life is connected to the internet is coming or has already come. Responding to the digitalization in society, should we change our approach or practice of merger review? If so, how should we do? I am very interested in these questions. Especially, there have been some cases where platform companies acquire small start-ups, which might be their potential competitors. How should we, competition authorities, deal with those types of M&As? I really hope that this workshop contributes to find the answer or, at least, to find clues for the answer to these questions.

 What is the ideal merger review corresponding to globalization and digitalization in economy? I understand that there exist many issues or challenges we have to deal with. However, one thing we all should bear in mind is that, in merger review, we should always keep our practice consistent with international standards.

 JFTC is now enforcing competition policy under the title of “New era’s competition policy”. Then we have received some critics saying, “why are bid riggings, cartels or some mergers prohibited? We are just trying to get along with everybody and make everybody happy.”

 Responding to those critics, I always show one cap and one ball. The cap is a baseball cap of one of major league baseball teams and the ball is a memorial baseball from major league all-star games last year. They are on my office desk. Then, I say “the regulation that prohibits bid riggings and other anticompetitive practices is like a baseball rule. If two baseball teams agree which batter would be struck out, the game would become boring for the audience and no players practice hard to improve their skills. Eventually the value of professional baseball league would come to nothing.” I believe that such an idea of competition’s value is universal anywhere around the world. Promoting innovation through competition can make businesses competitive and our economies grow. Competition policy and we, competition authorities can play a very important role for this. It is expected that we share recognition on the importance of our roles through this workshop.

 We lined up a lot of topics related to globalization and digitalization in this workshop. We believe that every topic is worth much discussion. We expect that not only moderator and panelists, but floor audience talk actively and share experiences with each other, which will surely make this workshop productive and informative. Also, now is a very comfortable season to stay in Tokyo. I really hope you all have time to enjoy Tokyo, and Japan. I would like to conclude my remarks by wishing all the best for the success of this workshop.

Thank you very much.


Kazuyuki Sugimoto
Japan Fair Trade Commission

Japan Fair Trade Commission:

100-8987 1-1-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo,Japan
Tel: +81-3-3581-1998
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