On December 16, 2011, the Beijing Lawyers Association organized a seminar inviting Mr. Zhou Zhigao, an official from the Price Supervision, Inspection and Anti-monopoly Bureau (Price Supervision and Anti-monopoly Bureau) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), to speak on anti-price monopoly legislation and enforcement.
The previous Department of Price Supervision of the NDRC was renamed and restructured in August as the Price Supervision and Anti-monopoly Bureau. According to Mr. Zhou, before the restructuring, the Price Supervision and Anti-monopoly Bureau had only 20 officials in 7 divisions with the Anti-price Monopoly Division being the only division handling anti-price monopoly cases. After the restructuring, the Anti-price Monopoly Division was expanded to three divisions: (1) the First Division of Anti-price-related Monopoly Investigation (反价格垄断调查一处); (2) the Second Division of Anti-price-related Monopoly Investigation (反价格垄断调查二处); and (3) the Division of Competition Policy and International Cooperation (竞争政策与国际合作处). The total number of officials in the Price Supervision and Anti-monopoly Bureau will be increased to 46.
According to Mr. Zhou, the First Division mainly handles cases in the service industries, the Second Division mainly handles cases in the manufacturing industries and the Office of Competition Policy and International Cooperation is the window for international cooperation.
Local price authorities are also intensifying antitrust enforcement efforts1. As part of the capacity building scheme, according to Mr. Zhou, 150 additional officials will be recruited by 8 provincial level Price Bureaus. The Price Bureaus of Beijing and Shanghai will each add 30 officials. The Price Bureaus of Liao Ning, Jiangsu, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing and Guangxi will each add 15 officials. It is reasonable to believe that the NDRC and the provincial level price bureaus will handle more anti-price monopoly cases in the near future.
1The NDRC has authorized the Price Bureau of the People’s Governments of the provinces, autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities to enforce the anti-price monopoly laws and regulations. Thus, both the NDRC and the provincial level Price Bureau have the authority to investigate and sanction price-related monopoly acts.