Beijing to unveil new anti-monopoly commission

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 July, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing will unveil a national anti-monopoly commission headed by Wang Qishan, the vice-premier in charge of trade and finance, an official said.

The source said the new commission would have three deputy directors. They would be the heads of the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

The source said the commission would operate within the commerce ministry's competition division, which would start operations when the new anti-monopoly law took effect on August 1, and would be headed by a deputy commerce minister.

The commission would only be a consultative and co-ordinating body with no administrative power, and staff from the competition division would be responsible daily operations.

The NDRC, the SAIC and the commerce ministry would share responsibility for enforcing the anti-monopoly law, the source said.

The ministry would be in charge of competition issues related to mergers and acquisitions and similar transactions across the globe.

The NDRC would decide on price-related cases.

The SAIC would decide on matters related to abuse of market position, the source said.

Despite some media reports to the contrary, the competition division would not be an independent institution but would come under the commerce ministry, another source said.

The source said the competition division would be in charge of approving applications for mergers and acquisitions by overseas entities, a process originally overseen by the commerce ministry's treaty and law department.

He did not reveal when the agency would formally come into being.

The source declined to comment on speculation that Microsoft would be the first corporation targeted under the new regime because 'the institution has yet to be set up and nobody knows about it'.

Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the commerce ministry's Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said putting the competition division under the commerce ministry showed Beijing was beefing up anti-monopoly activity.

Mr Mei said dividing enforcement responsibilities for the anti-monopoly law between three government agencies followed practices in many countries, including the United States and France.

But he expressed concern that the law would not be fully implemented from August 1 because the administrative bodies had not been established.

He said anti-monopoly law regulations that had yet to come into effect would also have a big impact on competition issues.