Nine years ago, I presented for the first time at ASCOLA’s annual conference, which took place at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. In May 2010, competition scholars from all over the world gathered for the Fifth ASCOLA conference and during three days we discussed on the goals of competition law. On that occasion, only three scholars from Spanish speaking countries attended the conference, including the discussant of my paper and me.
But as Bob Dylan’s song, the times they are a-changin, and now I get to say “hola” more often at international antitrust conferences. The 14th version of ASCOLA’s annual conference was not the exception, there were at least eleven antitrust scholars from Spanish-speaking countries. In this year’s conference, there were five Spaniards, two Chileans, two Colombians, a Peruvian and one Salvadoran.
Most of us presented in the parallel sessions but two of them were part of plenary panels. The topics we discussed were quite varied: excessive pricing, tacit collusion and algorithms, private antitrust claims, discretional power of competition authorities, commitment decisions in damage claims, facilitators of collusion, remedies in data-related merger cases, specialized competition tribunals, performance measurement of antitrust authorities, and market power in developing countries.
The Spanish speaking crowd that gathered at Aix-en-Provence was not only noted by its presentations and accents but also due to its reports of ASCOLA’s conference through tweets and blog posts. Are we going to see more of this in future conferences? This year’s conference was the biggest ever organised according to the president of ASCOLA, professor Michal Gal, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the number of scholars from Latin America and Spain also grows.
But there is another factor that makes me think that our crowd may become even larger in future conferences. There are 30 national competition authorities in 21 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and in 17 of these jurisdictions Spanish is the main language. Bear in mind that in the last ICN conference, organised in Cartagena (Colombia), there were around 130 competition authorities represented by over 500 delegates. Hence, at least 23% of the World’s competition authorities come from LAC. As long as scholars from these countries continue to improve their English proficiency and that ASCOLA funds academics from developing countries, you can bet that there will be more “¡Hola ASCOLA!”.