On December 16, 2010, the MERCOSUR (acronym for Common Market of the South) issued new rules (CMM Decision No. 043/2010) regarding antitrust-related matters, amid a major overhaul and redefinition of the goals of this integration process.
The MERCOSUR -whose full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay-, was created in 1991 with the objective of gradually establishing a common market among its members. The MERCOSUR never achieved its goals due to the lack of political will of its members and to the extreme protectionism of the businesses that made impossible any kind of serious integration among the economies of the countries.
This new agreement so-called “Agreement of Competition Defense of the MERCOSUR” – which repeals the Protocol of Fortaleza signed in 1996- sets more modest and feasible goals than its predecessor. Its main goals are in the field of cooperation and exchange of information among the competition authorities of its members. The agreement gives a legal framework to the already existent cooperation among the competition authorities of the countries, especially that among Argentina and Brazil through the Cooperation Agreement in effect since September 2007.
The new agreement establishes a consultation procedure to be followed by the competition authorities of the MERCOSUR’s members, the coordination of certain activities, and the exchange of competition-related information.
Since the new agreement’s goals are very modest, it is not expected to have a significant impact on the enforcement of competition legislations in the MERCOSUR’s members, though it is always positive that States reaffirm their commitment to fighting cartels and other antitrust offenses.