Singapore accuses 11 freight forwarding firms of price-fixing

ccsThe Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has issued a Proposed Infringement Decision (PID) against 11 freight forwarding companies and their Singapore subsidiaries / affiliates. CCS provisionally finds that the Parties have infringed section 34 of the Competition Act by collectively fixing certain fees and surcharges, and exchanging price and customer information in relation to the provision of air freight forwarding services for shipments from Japan to Singapore.

CCS commenced investigations after receiving an application for immunity under CCS’s Leniency Programme from one of the Parties involved in the alleged cartel. In CCS’s provisional view, information received during the course of the investigation evidences that the Parties were competitors and attended meetings in Japan where they exchanged information, discussed and agreed on certain fees and surcharges in relation to air freight forwarding services for shipments from Japan to other countries, including Singapore. The PID is limited to anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices involving the Japan to Singapore route.

The PID is a written notice setting out the facts on which CCS makes its assessment of the Conduct and its reasons for arriving at the proposed decision. It is issued to give the parties concerned an opportunity to respond to the PID and provide any other information to CCS by way of representations. CCS will consider all representations made before deciding whether to issue an infringement decision.

In this regard, all the Parties have 35 working days from the receipt of the PID to make their representations. All the information and evidence put forward by the Parties will be taken into consideration by the CCS should it issue a final decision in relation to the Conduct.

The case is the latest in a long line of investigations into the freight transport sector by competition authorities around the world over the past decade, a process that began with air freight carriers before spreading to freight forwarders, container shipping lines and rail freight operators.

The competition authorities in the US and the EU have issued penalties totaling more than US$2 billion, with the US imprisoning several senior executives judged to have participated in cartel activity. Singapore’s PID is limited to anti-competitive agreements or practices involving the Japan to Singapore route. Source: Competition Commission of Singapore 

Export tax mooted on iron ore and steel

Iron ore (Engineering News)

Iron ore (Engineering News)

The South African cabinet has endorsed the final report on the work of the Intra-Departmental Task Team (IDTT) on iron ore and steel, says Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Collins Chabane.

Briefing reporters following Cabinet’s last meeting of year on Thursday, Chabane said in keeping with prior decisions to enhance the competitiveness of the steel value chain, Cabinet endorsed the final report on the work of the IDTT and the recommendations contained in the report for urgent implementation.

He said there had been a lot of debate and interaction between the Departments of Trade and Industry, Economic Development and steel producers and mining houses with regards to the pricing of steel.

In August 2010, the dti announced the formation of a task team to make recommendations into the viability of local steel production. This as it had expressed concern about the high price of steel in the South African economy.

“Within the context of the beneficiation programme where the government is emphasising and wanting to expand the beneficiation of South African mineral products as it is one of the critical aspects,” said Chabane.

Among the recommendations of the task team are the amendments to the Competition Act and the introduction of export taxes on iron ore and steel where appropriate. The recommendations also include the promotion of new steel investments and prioritisation of electricity available and connections to such investments.

“Government would want, among other things, to expand the number of participants in terms of those who are producing steel as part of the reason to introduce new competition. Secondly [we] also want to take measures which are going to contain the expansion of prices of steel countrywide in order to stimulate the domestic production of various products which need to be processed in the country.

“The government is going to take several steps with regards to that in order to lower the price for domestic consumption and to redirect the steel products to provide for the South African economy,” explained Chabane.

He further added that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will have to play a greater role in the industrialisation of the country through being involved in manufacturing as well as beneficiation. Source: SAnews.gov.za