Antitrust fine soon to hit US carmaker

By Wang Yanfei | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-14 07:30

A penalty for monopolistic behavior will soon be issued against a US automaker for impeding competition, the nation's top pricing regulator said.

The penalty, against an unnamed company, comes as authorities work to step up antitrust oversight and expand the industries they scrutinize in order to promote fair market competition, according to Zhang Handong, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's price supervision bureau, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

This is being done while treating foreign and domestic enterprises equally, Zhang emphasized.

The penalty would be the second decision handed down by the commission this month, and the seventh fine issued to automakers since the commission began conducting anti-monopoly investigations of the auto industry in 2011.


The United States company will be issued a penalty because investigators found it had given instructions to its distributors to fix prices, Zhang said. The instructions had been given orally and through email starting in 2014, he said.

But Zhang said no one should read anything improper into the timing of penalty decisions or businesses that are targeted.

According to the commission, as of Tuesday it had issued a total of 2.05 billion yuan ($297 million) in fines to auto companies, including Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Penalties handed down by the commission, all to companies based in other countries, have led to accusations by foreign companies that they may have been unfairly targeted as a result of protectionist policies in China.

But Zhang played down such concerns and said that the commission works independently and has no intention to use anti-monopoly actions as a tool to protect domestic brands.

"The major reason for issuing fines is to improve market order," he said. "Law enforcement actions send a warning to other companies who may be engaging in similarly suspect behaviors."

Some foreign companies have disregarded Chinese anti-monopoly law and adopted a variety of illegal sales policies in China, according to Zhang.

Su Hua, associate professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, said foreign companies should pay more attention to Chinese anti - monopoly laws.

Six explanatory guidelines covering major industries will be released by the end of 2017, Zhang said. The guideline on the auto industry will be the first to be released.


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