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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X
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한국개발연구. Vol. 13, No. 2, August 1991, pp. 97-127

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The Competition Policy and Major Industrial Policy-Making in the 1980's (Written in Korean)


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This paper investigates the roles and the limitations of the Korean antitrust agencies the Office of Fair Trade (OFT) and the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) during the making of the major industrial policies of the 1980's. The Korean antitrust agencies played only a minimal role in three major industrial policy-making issues in the 1980's- the enactment of the Industrial Development Act (IDA), the Industrial Rationalization Measures according to the IDA, and the Industrial Readjustment Measures on Consolidation of Large Insolvent Enterprises based on the revised Tax Exemption and Reduction Control Act. As causes for this performance bias in the Korean antitrust system, this paper considers five factors according to the current literature on implementation failure: ambiguous and insufficient statutory provisions of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFT A); lack of resources; biased attitudes and motivations of the staff of the OFT and the FTC; bureaucratic incapability; and widespread misunderstanding about the roles and functions of the antitrust system in Korea. Among these five factors, bureaucratic incompetence and lack of understanding in various policy implementation environments about the roles and functions of the antitrust system have been regarded as the most important ones. Most staff members did not have enough educational training during their school years to engage in antitrust and fair trade policy-making. Furthermore, the high rate of staff turnover due to a mandatory personnel transfer system has prohibited the accumulation of knowledge and skills required for pursuing complicated structural antitrust enforcement. The limited capability of the OFT has put the agency in a disadvantaged position in negotiating with other economic ministries. The OFT has not provided plausible counter-arguments based on sound economic theories against other economic ministries' intensive market interventions in the name of rationalization and readjustment of industries. If the staff members of antitrust agencies have lacked substantive understanding of the antitrust and fair trade policy, the rest of government agencies must have had serious problems in understanding the correst roles and functions of the antitrust system. The policy environment of the Korean antitrust system, including other economic ministries, the Deputy Prime Minister, and President Chun, have tended to conceptualize the OFT more as an agency aiming only at fair trade policy and less as an agency that should enforce structural monopoly regulation as well. Based on this assessment of the performance of the Korean antitrust system, this paper evaluate current reform proposals for the MRFT A. The inclusion of the regulation of conglomerate mergers and of business divestiture orders may be a desirable revision, giving the MRFTA more complete provisions. However, given deficient staff experties and the unfavorable policy environments, it would be too optimistic and naïve to expect that the inclusion of these provisions alone could improve the performance of the Korean antitrust system. In its conclusion, this paper suggests several policy recommendations for the Korean antitrust system, which would secure the stable development and accumulation of antitrust expertise for its staff members and enough understanding and conformity from its environments about its antitrust goals and functions.

JEL Code

L51, G34, L40

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