China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) — one of the country’s several agencies tasked with oversight of monopoly cases — fined seven foreign shipping companies a total of 407 million yuan ($63 million) for price-fixing. In a statement released Monday, the NDRC said the actions of the companies had “hurt the interests” of China’s importers and exporters, and violated the country’s 2008 anti-monopoly law.
The commission accused the companies of mutually agreeing to raise shipping costs and using unfair means to set prices, mainly on routes linking China with North America, South America and Europe. The NDRC said the companies had already acknowledged their responsibility and apologized.
The fines are equivalent to 4 to 9 percent of the firms’ international shipping sales to and from China, the regulator said in the statement.
The companies fined include Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Eastern Car Liner, South Korea’s Eukor Car Carriers, Norway's Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, and Chile’s Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores. Among these, the largest fine, of nearly $44 million, was imposed on Eukor.
“We have taken the investigation very seriously and cooperated fully with the NDRC throughout the process. We are glad to see the investigation come to an end, so we can move forward, and continue our investment and operation in the Chinese market to achieve success,” the South Korean company said in a statement released Monday. “We will do everything possible to avoid similar situations going forward.”
Another company, Japan’s Nippon Yusen, was exempted from paying penalties because the firm told the regulator it had cooperated with investigators.
In recent months, several foreign firms have been investigated and fined for violations of the country’s anti-monopoly law. In February, U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm was fined nearly $1 billion over its patent licensing practices, making it one of the largest such fines levied on a company in China.