Mon, Aug 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Commission warns against price fixing

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Fair Trade Commission warned manufacturers, distributors and retailers in all industries yesterday that they could face heavy fines or even prison terms if they take concerted action to fix prices.

The commission noted that market prices have fluctuated sharply in the past year and that a growing number of suppliers of similar products or services have collaborated to adjust their prices.

The warning came in the wake of the commission's plan to hold a seminar explaining Article 7 of the Fair Trade Law (公平交易法) in Hualien tomorrow. The article governs monopolies and concerted action in price fixing, which occurs when two or more competitors agree on how they will charge customers for products or services.

Suppliers are banned from taking "concerted action" to fix prices of goods and services, as violators can be fined NT$25 million (US$765,955), the commission said, adding that repeat offenders are likely to face a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

With the prices of several domestic necessities rising recently, the commission said it had established a special task force to guard against price manipulation by businesses in June.

The number of violators of the Fair Trade Law has increased since 2002, it said. Prominent examples include the concerted action by the meal box association to raise the prices of school meals, and the sand and gravel firms' hoarding and attempts. to raise prices.

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