Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The potential for workable cartels presently exists in several commodities, and host-countries and multinationals have already initiated or attempted cartel activities in minerals and agricultural goods. The recent success of the OPEC cartel was a significant factor influencing the formation of the uranium cartel by easing corporate and governmental inhibitions against cartel activities. Given the increasing exploitative attitude among developed countries and what has been termed the "irrational solidarity" among developing countries, it is not unreasonable to expect more imitations of OPEC success wherever market conditions would allow a group of producers to extract monopoly rents from consuming nations. Such activity poses a threat to the nation's ability to regulate the economy and forces priorities in the national budget to be determined in response to inflationary pressures in large part generated by political and economic activity which is presently immune from the sanctions of United States antitrust laws. Perhaps an even greater threat is posed by the danger that a resurgence of cartel activity in the mainstream of international commerce could threaten a return to the exploitative mentality that triggered the world-wide depression of the interwar period. While the chances of such a recurrence may at this time seem remote, its potential consequences in a world suffering from overpopulation and scarcity of resources must not be risked. Even without such a catastrophe, the social cost of worldwide cartelization would heavily burden efforts aimed at maximizing economic welfare and redressing inequities in this country and abroad.

United States antitrust jurisdiction and regulatory powers are presently too limited in their extraterritorial application to deal effectively with the international cartel problem. The Cartel Restriction Act, now pending in Congress, seeks to correct this problem by minimizing the adverse impact of international cartels on domestic and international commerce, by limiting participation by American firms in cartels and by applying pressure on such activity through trade channels. The proposed legislation attempts to reduce the threat of international cartels in two ways: (1) require U.S. companies to report any solicitation of cartel activities; (2) strengthen the application of present antitrust law by limiting the act of state doctrine and its corollary, sovereign compulsion, as a defense to violations of the antitrust statutes.