China fines global shipping firms for price-fixing

A container terminal in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption International firms have come under fire in China for breaking its anti-monopoly law

Chinese regulators have fined seven major international shipping companies 407m yuan ($65m; £42m) for fixing prices after a year-long investigation.

Korean, Japanese and European shipping companies that carry vehicles were found to have coordinated bids and routes in order to keep prices high.

The fines are equivalent to 4% to 9% of the firm's international shipping sales to and from China, the regulator said.

Authorities have been penalising firms under China's 2008 anti-monopoly law.

Several sectors have been affected by the crackdown including automakers, dairy and technology suppliers in an attempt to keep prices down for Chinese consumers.

In February, US chipmaker Qualcomm was fined $975m on charges that it abused its dominance in wireless technology to charge high licensing fees.

Ongoing investigation

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said executives from the firms met over a period of four years to share information and create deals to avoid competition on routes linking China with Europe, North America and Latin America.

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 Cia. Sud Americana de Vapores.

Japan's Nippon Yusen was exempted from paying penalties, because the firm said it cooperated with investigators.

The biggest fine of $45m went to Eurkor and the company responded by saying they were glad to see the investigation had come to an end.

"We will do everything possible to avoid similar situations going forward," it said in a statement on its website.

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