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Seoul to crack down on international cartels: FTC chief

Watchdog’s move comes as price-fixing, collusive wrongdoings on increase


The Fair Trade Commission will step up efforts to crack down on international cartels, promising stern punishment for those engaged in unfair trade practices or abusing their market dominance, commission chief Kim Dong-soo said Wednesday.

“A typical example of foul play in the market economy is cartels, the No. 1 enemy of the market economy,” FTC chairman Kim said during a meeting hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

“The FTC has been at the forefront of controlling international antitrust violations. In line with this, we will actively uncover and regulate not only domestic but also international cartels targeting the Korean market,” Kim added.

The comments come on the heels of an increasing number of price fixing cases and other collusive wrongdoings detected in the past year, which the corporate watchdog sees as the biggest problem for the market economy.

The FTC has been investigating about 40 companies in the first half of the year to uproot collusion that leads to unfair price hikes and distortions in the distribution structure.

The watchdog in 2008 established a new division to investigate and monitor international cartels. The new division under the cartel policy bureau was established to reinforce its functions concerning international cartels in response to the rising number of offenses committed by multinational corporations.

Kim emphasized the importance of protecting intellectual property, an area where the legal framework for protection has been widely criticized by U.S. companies.

“We will work hard to eradicate any foul play in the area by intensifying oversight into industrial espionage,” he said.

“Intellectual property rights are granted the exclusive use of innovative technologies, but sometimes IPR holders engage in abusive behavior that exceeds the rights rewarded for the innovation,” he added.

The chairman said the agency would establish an IPR abuse report center this year to provide guidelines on how to properly exercise their IPRs.

By Cynthia J. Kim(cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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