The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) has been authorized by the State Council to take the lead in drafting the 13th Five Year Plan for Modernization of Market Supervision (“the Plan”). SAIC had conducted detailed research on the modernization of market supervision. The Anti-unfair Competition Enforcement Bureau (“AACEB”) will be in charge of the competition policy section of the Plan, said Yang Jie, a division head of AACEB, at a seminar organized by Renmin University on 27th March 2016. The draft will be divided into five sections, which include the revision of the Anti-monopoly Law, establishing a fair competition review system, enhancing the function of competition policies, promoting international cooperation on competition policies, and establishing a unified antitrust enforcement body.
Such structural establishment of a unified antitrust authority aims to overcome institutional weaknesses of the current arrangement that restricts the performance of the three agencies, and tries to improve the efficiency of China’s competition enforcement agencies. Integrating and unifying the responsibilities and work of the three enforcement agencies appears to be the most concerned arrangement under this Plan, in that this involves not only functional complement, but also an institutional restructure. This initiative is put forward against the backdrop where antitrust enforcement confronts resource restraints and overlapping institutional settings.
The enforcement of the three agencies has been severely hampered by resource deficiency, especially in view of the magnitude of assigned tasks. The current institutional arrangement allows inter-agency depletion of precious enforcement resources and imposes delays in the resolution of cases.
Also, entrusting two or more agencies with overlapping authority inherently implies not only a source of tension and a coordination burden for those three agencies, but also a source of uncertainty for antitrust compliance.
In conclusion, establishing a unified antitrust body would largely improve China’s AML enforcement efficiency and coherence, enable separate and stand-alone AML decisions, and allow more certainties and convenience for undertakings in their antitrust compliance work.