By Susan Ning, Liu Jia and Angie Ng
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has co-organised a conference focusing on price related monopoly agreements with the European Commission Directorate-General for Competition (DG Competition). The conference took place from 1 to 2 June 2011.
Antitrust authorities from the following jurisdictions attended this conference: the European Union, the United States of America, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Greece. From China, officials from several government agencies attended the conference, including officials from: the Law Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Supreme People’s Court, Legislative Affairs of the State Council, the NDRC, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Commerce, the State of Administration of Industry and Commerce, and pricing authorities based in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Other attendees include representatives from China Consumers’ Association, China Cleaning Industry Association and academics.
According to press reports, Mr. Peng Seng, the Vice Chairman of NDRC, stressed during the conference that, price cartels are extremely harmful to competition. Mr Peng also indicated that on of the NDRC’s enforcement priorities would be to investigate all alleged price cartels and to stop these cartels from operating in China.
It is significant to note that the antitrust authorities in China (including the NDRC) regularly co-host conferences such as the one above, with overseas antitrust authorities. Regular contact between the Chinese antitrust authorities and overseas antitrust authorities ensure that the authorities are up to speed in terms of recent antitrust or competition law developments in each other’s jurisdictions.
Cooperation between antitrust authorities is also a crucial element in terms of "busting" large, multijurisdictional cartels. To date, it would appear that there is only one formal cooperative arrangement between the Chinese antitrust authorities and overseas antitrust authorities. In January 2011, the NDRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading. The objective of the MOU is to enhance cooperation between the NDRC and the OFT in the area of the enforcement of competition policy. There is no doubt that we can expect more of these formal cooperative arrangements in due course.