Enforcement cooperation

Global flows of goods, services, information, investment and people continue to grow. Enforcement cooperation can help to more effectively regulate these cross-border flows.

This kind of cooperation involves 2 or more governments or regulators agreeing to cooperate on regulatory enforcement activities such as:

  • evidence collection and investigations
  • enforcement
  • information sharing, including early alerts on emerging compliance issues in one country that may reveal a risk in others.

The rationale for enforcement cooperation

A way to improve compliance when issues cross international borders

Enforcement cooperation is particularly useful when actors or actions outside domestic borders could affect the operation of domestic regulatory and policy functions, or where information or evidence held overseas is needed to investigate or enforce breaches of domestic law.

The objectives of enforcement cooperation include:

  • reducing non-compliant conduct
  • ensuring that activities or key actors are not beyond the reach of domestic regulators and the law
  • helping ensure that public policy objectives are achieved
  • managing risks to people and the operation of markets.

Areas where enforcement cooperation might be worthwhile include regulation governing competition (such as regulation governing cartels), privacy, and consumer protection (such as the safety of commonly traded products like toys and electrical equipment).

Benefits and risks

The key benefit is more effective domestic regulation

Enforcement cooperation can offer several benefits:

  • It helps regulators manage the effective enforcement of regulation, where relevant actions or actors, or key information is overseas.
  • It reduces non-compliance and helps reduces the incentive for businesses or individuals to organise their affairs to put themselves and their assets beyond reach of domestic regulators.

The main disadvantage is the need for legislation

Enforcement cooperation has some potential shortcomings.

Legislative authority may be required to enable a domestic regulator to:

  • use its information-gathering powers to help a foreign regulator, or
  • share information that it already holds, pursuant to its information-gathering powers, with a foreign regulator.

Extra resources may be needed to ensure effective enforcement.

Case studies

Case study: How New Zealand works with international privacy regulators

Most OECD countries have privacy regulators with a remit to protect the privacy of individuals. These regulators cooperate on enforcement matters to better protect their citizens, and work on cross-border cases.

New Zealand has worked closely with international privacy regulators for over a decade.

Cooperating with international privacy regulators

Case study: Trans-Tasman competition policy

Trans-Tasman competition policy has evolved to encompass many different kinds of regulatory cooperation. The first iteration involved New Zealand unilaterally adopting from Australia by modelling its own legislation on the Australian Trade Practices Act.

Competition Law – The trans-Tasman experience