The Roundtable debated conditions for exempting horizontal co-operation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from general prohibitions against cartels. In a number of countries, either a legal provision exempts agreements between SMEs or such agreements are allowed under a de minimis clause. Country contributions and the discussion showed a diversity in the definition of an SME or of the threshold of de minimis or exemption, in the kinds of agreements which could be exempted and in the sectors where exemptions are found. One rationale offered for exempting agreements among SMEs is administrative, to lighten the burden on antitrust authorities. Another is economic, to achieve benefits in terms of efficiency or competition. And another is political, where the exemption results from lobbying by special interest groups. This document comprises proceedings in the original languages of a roundtable on General Cartel Bans: Criteria for Exemption for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises which was held by the Committee on Competition Law and Policy in April 1996. It is published as a general distribution document under the responsibility of the Secretary General of the OECD to bring information on this topic to the attention of a wider audience. This compilation is one of several published in a series named “Competition Policy Roundtables”.
General Cartel Bans Criteria for Exemption for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises