Although the antimonopoly enforcement in China is still in its formative years, the significant progress made by China’s antimonopoly regulators has brought about far-reaching impacts on companies doing business in China. Recently, the three anti-monopoly regulators, i.e. the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC“), the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC“) and the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM“) published their latest enforcement achievements, and NDRC for the first time disclosed its case volume to the public.
To keep its vow of increasing transparency1, NDRC took a considerable step in releasing information about their antitrust investigations to the public. According to Mr. Xu Kunlin, Director General of Price Supervision and Anti-Monopoly Bureau of NDRC, a total of 49 price-related cases have been investigated by NDRC since the enforcement of AML, and 20 of them were closed with administrative penalties.2 The investigations have covered a broad range of industries, including pharmacy, papermaking, LCD panel, cement, insurance, shipping agency industries, etc. This is the first time that NDRC disclosed its case volume to the public.
In comparison to NDRC, SAIC appears to be more active in making disclosure of its enforcement efforts. The latest announcement was made on December 18th, 2012 during the China Competition Policy and Law Annual Conference held in Beijing3. Ms. Ren Airong, Director General of the Antimonopoly and Anti-unfair Competition Enforcement Bureau of SAIC, introduced on the Conference that up to the present SAIC has authorized 10 provincial AICs to investigate in 17 cases, including 16 cartel cases (3 of them involved verbal agreement) and 1 case of abuse of dominance; besides, 8 cases have been decided by SAIC and 6 of them were closed in 2012, from which it can be seen that SAIC is speeding up in its case handling process.
On December 27th, 2012, Mr. Shang Ming, Director General of the Antimonopoly Bureau of MOFCOM, represented MOFCOM’s achievements in merger control on the Press Conference of “Antimonopoly Work Progress in 2012?.4 As of December 26th, 2012, MOFCOM has officially accepted a total of 186 cases, and 154 of them have been cleared (including 6 conditional clearance decisions) in year 2012.
It is worth mentioning that in 2012, MOFCOM disclosed all the unconditional cases (458 as of September 30th, 2012) since the AML took effect in 2008. MOFCOM has promised to publish information about the unconditional cases on a quarterly basis.