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.

Continue Reading NDRC and EU’s DG Competition organize conference on price-related monopoly agreements

By: Susan Ning, Angie Ng and Shan Lining

Last week (between 26 to 27 May 2011), it was reported in the press that Unilever has raised the prices of specific products (including Lux and Hazeline branded shampoos and shower gels) by 10% in some cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (Unilever’s price increases).  This was touted as a surprising move given that Unilever was recently fined by the price authority, the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) in relation to conduct to do with its proposed price increases just earlier in the month (see below for more details to do with this fine) (Unilever’s price signaling conduct).

This article outlines details to do with Unilever’s price signaling conduct and subsequent price increases and examines whether or to what extent such conduct would be considered in breach of the Price Law and the Anti-Monopoly Law in China.

Continue Reading Price signaling and price hikes – a breach of the Price Law or Anti-Monopoly Law?

By: Susan Ning, Shan Lining and Angie Ng

On 6 May 2011, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced that a manufacturer of household and personal care products (the Manufacturer) has been fined a total of RMB2 million for breaching the Price Law.  The NDRC also appeared to have made some Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) references in relation to this case.

Continue Reading Price hikes and price signaling

By Susan Ning and Yin Ranran

On 2 April 2011, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) hosted a conference with 17 industry associations (relating to businesses selling major consumer products such as household electrical appliances, food, beverages and dairy products) in Beijing.  Specifically, the NDRC’s Price Department and Economic and Trade Department convened the conference as an effort to address the recent price hikes in commodities (see our articles entitledPrice Hikes for Washing Powders, Soaps and Shampoos Expected in April and Businesses Should Be Cautious in Making Advance Price Increase Announcement ). 

The NDRC hosted conference was also regarded as an effort of NDRC to address China’s increasing consumer price index (CPI) – which is a major indication of the rate of increase of inflation in China.  According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on April 15, China’s CPI rose 5.4% in March 2011 (from a year ago), hitting a 32-month high.
 

Continue Reading NDRC Held Talks with 17 Industry Associations

By Susan Ning, Yin Ranran and Angie Ng

An instant noodle manufacturer recently announced that it decided to increase prices for its "container instant noodle" (referring to both instant noodles packaged into a variety of "cup-like" or rectangular containers) from 1 April 2011. In China, this instant noodle manufacturer is considered one of the leading brands in relation to the instant noodle industry.  According to press reports, the instant noodle manufacturer has announced that due to increased transportation and raw materials (e.g. flour and palm oil) costs, it intends to raise the prices for most of its container instant noodles to RMB 0.5 per unit – this amounts to an increase of between 10% to 15% from current prices. [Note:  In the past month, several manufacturers of household and daily care products also made announcements that they were intending to increase prices of specified products due to an increase in price in raw materials.  See our article entitled Price Hikes for Washing Powders, Soaps and Shampoos expected in April

Continue Reading Businesses Should Be Cautious in Making Advance Price Increase Announcement

By Susan Ning, Yin Ranran, and Angie Ng

Recently, there has been a flurry of press reports on the proposed price increases by several major manufacturers of household and personal care products, including multinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, as well as domestic manufacturers such as "Liby" and "Nice".  Pursuant to the press reports, all four manufacturers mentioned above have separately announced that the retail prices for their respective brands of washing agents (including washing powders, soaps and shampoos) will increase by as much as 10% commencing from early April 2011.  Commentators have said that this is the largest price hike that they have seen in relation to the household and personal care products industry, in the past 3 years. 

Continue Reading Price Hikes for Washing Powders, Soaps and Shampoos Expected in April

By Susan Ning, Shan Lining and Angie Ng

The radiation leaks in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant (caused by the earthquake-tsunami in Japan on 11 March) has made consumers in China paranoid about the salt they will consume in the near future.  Once news of the leak in the nuclear plant broke, there was a mad "scramble" to purchase table salt – as Chinese consumers were concerned that in the near future, the sea water around China would be contaminated as a result of the radiation leakage.  According to press reports, around the same time, some table salt retailers proceeded to raise the retail prices of iodized table salt.

The Chinese Government controls prices in relation to table salt.  Specifically, the ex-works and wholesale prices of table salt are set by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC, the central price authority); in addition provincial price authorities also control to some extent, the retail prices of salt.  In some provinces, provincial price authorities set maximum retail prices – this means that table salt retailers are not to charge above a price set by these authorities.

Continue Reading Salt Price Hikes Curbed by the Price Law