On January 28, the European Commission (EC) imposed fines of approximately $172m on five companies for their alleged participation in a cartel for marine hoses between 1986 and 2007 in violation of the ban on anticompetitive agreements in the EC Treaty (Article 81).  Marine hoses are used to transport crude oil to and from ships for transportation from production sites.  The EC alleged that the cartel members fixed prices for marine hoses, allocated bids and markets and exchanged commercially sensitive information.  EC Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, “For 20 years, this cartel added to the prices consumers paid for their oil deliveries.  I will not tolerate illegal cartels and will continue to impose heavy fines on those companies found guilty of this kind of serious malpractice.”
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According to press reports, three agencies and a governing Anti-Monopoly Commission will comprise China’s competition enforcement regime when the country’s long-awaited Anti-Monopoly Law takes effect on 1 August.  It has been reported that enforcement duties will be split between the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.  The regulatory regime would mirror predictions from competition specialists and would incorporate the three governmental bodies that have been most active in training and workshops leading up to the law’s enactment. According to press reports, the Commerce Ministry would become home to the country’s merger control unit.  The other two agencies would handle behavioral issues, including pricing and non-pricing-related abuse of dominance cases, respectively.  The structure may also be the result of a compromise between the three agencies, as all three were rumored to be jockeying for position during discussions of how to implement the law. Competition specialists say that while the arrangement may end any struggle over which body should enforce the law, the three-tiered structure could also result in delays and uncertainty when developing enforcement standards.Continue Reading International Highlights for August 2008