New Brazilian Growth Plan includes antitrust reform
On January 22, 2007, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva launched the Growth-Accelerating Program (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento – PAC), a set of governmental actions to stimulate private investments, foster investments in infrastructure and remove bottlenecks in the economy through the elimination of bureaucratic and inadequate regulation obstacles. Amongst other measures idealized to create a more attractive investment climate, the new plan aims at expediting the approval by Congress of Bill 5,877, prepared in 2005 by the Brazilian competition agencies to amend the existing Antitrust Law (Law 8,884, of 1994). The proposed bill provides for the restructuring of the antitrust institutional framework through the merger between two antitrust agencies, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), which has the authority to rule on antitrust violations and merger control cases, and the Secretariat of Economic Law of the Ministry of Justice (SDE), which is focused on prosecuting and investigating antitrust infringements. The third existing antitrust authority, the Secretariat of Economic Oversight of the Ministry of Finance (SEAE) would be out of this new structure and would develop a secondary consulting role for antitrust analysis in regulated sectors. This bill also contemplates new thresholds for notification and a pre-merger notification procedure, as well as provides for several procedural changes which would allow the new agency to give priority to cartel prosecution.