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Press Release

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter Delivers Opening Remarks at the Second Annual Spring Enforcers Summit

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Good morning. I am incredibly honored and grateful to welcome you all to the second annual Enforcers Summit. I am deeply humbled to be in the presence of so many esteemed, talented and dedicated competition law enforcement officials from throughout our country and around the world.

We are gathered in the “Great Hall” here at the Justice Department. Today, it is most certainly living up to its name. Today’s collection of enforcers is truly “great.” Just this morning we will hear from leaders in the U.S., U.K., South Africa and the National Association of State Attorneys General. In total, we are joined today by senior officials from 30 global jurisdictions, 21 states and the District of Columbia.

And we are joined this morning by a livestreamed audience of a public that rightly demands solutions to the problems of monopoly and oligopoly. We meet at a time when a popular movement is growing in support of more robust competition enforcement in the United States and around the globe. Our fellow citizens, who are feeling the effects of monopoly power, are advocating for greater protection of markets and opportunities to compete and benefit from competition.

So let me start by saying that this is not just another conference. This is a chance for expert enforcers confronting similar challenges to exchange ideas and collaborate regarding the path forward at a time when our markets are experiencing tectonic shifts. I know I speak for my co-host FTC Chair Lina Khan when I say we are eager to listen and to learn.

We are experiencing change in our economies on par with, if not exceeding, the industrial revolution. The ideas of competition policy are timeless but only if we are willing to adapt the familiar tools of competition to keep pace.

Poles and wires have given way to 1s and 0s. Intermediaries that once protected against information sharing have given way to digital collusion. Data has replaced oil as the power source for our new industrial tools.

The models of the smokestack economy reflected the simple geometries of the physical world. Goods used to move up and down supply chains. Competitive relationships were vertical and horizontal.

Those facts have changed. We have platforms that are multi-dimensional, serving distinct users and businesses all at once with complex relationships. The geometries of our markets today often look more like gemstones than two-dimensional drawings. Gatekeeper power has become the most pressing competitive problem of our generation at a time when many of the previous generations’ tools to assess and address gatekeeper power have become outmoded.

But we are working to meet the moment. The group assembled today in this Great Hall is not sitting by idly. Together, we are not just advancing the dialogue, but adapting our tools, analytical frameworks and internal expertise with the courage and creativity to protect competition for our generation and generations to come.

Look around you. We are surrounded by enforcers who are confronting the necessity and boundless opportunities of modernization on a daily basis. Not just through papers and panels, but through the hard work of investigation and enforcement.

This is not an academic conference: it is an enforcers summit.  

In the United States, we are invigorating monopolization and merger enforcement. The deterrent effect is powerful and the results are tangible.

Simply put — most anticompetitive deals are no longer getting out of the boardroom.

And the ones that do are facing a sophisticated and empowered team of career enforcement officials who are ready to examine market realities and are up to the tough but noble task or protecting our fellow citizens from the ills of anticompetitive mergers.

And would-be monopolists know that the antitrust agencies are standing by to challenge exclusionary conduct.

When it comes to monopolization, we have more active litigation and investigations than several prior decades combined.

As a result, the economy is rebuilding itself all around us. Little by little, day by day, the natural forces of competition are taking root and rebuilding competitive markets.

That was the genius of our respective legislators in passing competition laws in the first place. When we stop anticompetitive conduct; prohibit exclusion; and stop mergers that risk lessening competition, we let the natural forces of free and fair competition elevate our economies and democracies.

So let me open this conference with a note of optimism. Our work is making a difference.

We have already changed the calculus for businesses contemplating preserving their power through mergers or exclusionary conduct or cartel behavior. And as a result, we have reopened markets for competition to gradually reappear and to flourish.

As we confront the pivot to AI and to new paradigms of health care, finance and agriculture, I am incredibly hopeful.

So long as we continue to build on and maintain an aggressive enforcement posture that accounts for modern market realities, new technology will bring a new competitive reality to our economies.

Today, I hope we can learn from each other how to continue that success. We will open the morning with publicly-broadcast interviews and panels. I want to make a request about that — I want the audience of our fellow enforcers to be part of this event.

We will have time for Q&A at each session, and I want to encourage you to actively participate and to share your ideas.

Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that a lot of effort goes into pulling off an event like this. I want to thank the staff of the Antitrust Division and FTC who worked tirelessly to make today’s event happen. In particular, our International Section Chief Lynda Marshall, Competition Policy and Advocacy Chief Karina Lubell, Special Counsel for State Relations Sarah Allen and international counsel Becky Valentine.

If you had a hand in planning this event, can you please stand up so we can all give you a round of applause.

Also if you will indulge me, we are joined by the Antitrust Division’s newest Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Manish Kumar, who is responsible for criminal enforcement. Welcome, Manish.

With that, it’s my honor to introduce my co-host, FTC Chair Lina Khan. We all know Lina is a rockstar, and she’s joined by another rockstar, former U.K. Competition and Markets Authority head Andrea Coscelli. Lina and Andrea, I’m looking forward to your discussion.

It is truly my privilege to officially kick off our second annual Enforcers Summit.

Updated March 28, 2023

Topic
Antitrust
Press Release Number: 23-337