The nation’s chief antitrust regulator on Wednesday vowed to foster a level playing field for domestic and foreign companies by enforcing the competition law.
“Should the government treat foreign enterprises in an unfair or discriminatory manner, it will bring undesirable results to domestic consumers and the government, as well as to the foreign enterprises,” Fair Trade Commission chairman Noh Dae-lae said during a meeting with a foreign press association.
He vowed to apply antitrust rules in accordance with global standards and the country’s free trade agreements.
He also said that the antitrust agency and other related organizations would overhaul the system, ensuring fair valuation of SME products supplied to conglomerates, and impose tougher sanctions and regulatory measures against big businesses that have forced price cuts.
The FTC plans to allow SMEs to report unfair practices not only to the antitrust agency but also other organizations, such as the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business, and claim bigger damages should big companies violate fair competition rules.
These stricter measures will also be applied to subcontractors that push their second- and third-tier suppliers to offer lower prices, the chairman said.
“Top executives of conglomerates involved will also be held accountable for hindering sound relations with suppliers,” he said.
The FTC chief also said that the government would assist SMEs to become self-sustainable so that they would not be too dependent on conglomerates. This assistance would help them expand their marketing and distribution channels so they could offer their products more directly to consumers or other clients.
For instance, an increased number of time slots will be given to SMEs marketing their goods on TV home shopping channels during prime time.
According to FTC officials, the authorities’ first move will be to help SMEs and their second- or third-tier suppliers receive fair payment for intangible goods and services such as software installation and maintenance provided to the public procurement sector.
It will raise the minimum payment from 8 percent of installation fees to 10 percent on average by 2014 and 15 percent by 2017 for software maintenance.
By Kim Yon-se (email@example.com)