Cabinet approves Fair Trade Act amendment

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 07, 2012 - Page 13

In light of the growing number of price-fixing cases involving Taiwanese companies, the Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法) to strengthen the regulatory and supervisory framework.

The government has lacked the tools under the current statutory framework to act on breaches of fair trade regulations, which in turn has compromised efforts to carry out fair trade policy and hampered industrial development, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) told a Cabinet meeting, according to a press release.

According to the amendment, which is pending legislative review, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) would be given the right to carry out raids and seize items if it suspects monopoly, mergers, concerted actions or other restraints on competition, and unfair trade.

The amendment stipulates that the commission must get approval from the courts before taking action.

“It will help the FTC to garner evidence of unfair and illegal business practices in a timely manner because violations of the Fair Trade Act are usually committed in secrecy,” FTC Chairman Wu Shiow-ming (吳秀明) told a press conference following the meeting.

The overhaul of the act encompassed more than half its provisions because the legislation, enacted more than 20 years ago, has failed to adapt to rapid changes in industrial models and the business environment at home and abroad, Wu said.

If the amendment is passed by the legislature, the commission would be able to impose fines for violations of the provisions within five years of the violation, rather than three years under the current system, giving the supervisory authority more time to investigate irregularities.

The commission wants tougher penalties for violations in cases of monopoly, mergers, concerted actions and other restraints on competition, and aims to raise fines from the current level of between NT$50,000 (US$1,720) and NT$25 million to between NT$100,000 and NT$50 million.

The punishment for unfair trade practices would remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting also approved a draft law to govern direct selling and multi-level marketing companies to improve regulation of the industry.