Competition Bill Introduced in Hong Kong
On July 2, 2010, after several years of drafting and public consultation,
Hong Kong unveiled its draft competition bill. The bill, which will be
introduced in the legislature on July 14, 2010, would prohibit anticompetitive
agreements and concerted practices, as well as any abuse of a "significant"
market position that has the purpose or effect of preventing, restricting or
distorting competition in Hong Kong. The proposed legislation also creates a competition commission to investigate
complaints and bring public enforcement proceedings, as well as a competition
tribunal to adjudicate cases. As currently drafted, the bill does not include
comprehensive merger procedures, though there is a merger rule that would apply
only to licensees in the telecommunications industry. If enacted, the
legislation would be implemented in 2012.
Federal Agencies Continue Focusing on Competition in Agriculture Markets
On June 25, 2010, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture held their
third joint public workshop on competition and regulation in the agriculture
sector. This workshop focused on issues in the dairy industry. Earlier workshops
concentrated on grain farming and hog production, and the poultry industry.
Two additional workshops are scheduled for this year.
On June 18, 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
announced proposed changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act, which
regulates the livestock and poultry industries. Under the new regulations, which
were published June 22, 2010, a meat producer would no longer be required to
prove harm to competition when bringing a claim about anticompetitive conduct,
and limitations would be placed on poultry growing arrangements, swine
production contracts, and how meatpackers obtain cattle on the open market.
Public comments on the
proposed rules will be accepted through Aug. 23, 2010.
European Commission Reduces Cartel Fines Citing Economic Conditions
The European Commission has recently taken into account that current
economic conditions may significantly limit a company's ability to pay a cartel
fine. On June 23, 2010, the commission reduced the fines of five companies that
had participated in a bathroom equipment manufacturers cartel to "a level they
should be able to pay," after acknowledging that the companies were financially
in "very bad shape already." On June 30, 2010, the commission reduced the fines
of three companies that participated in a prestressing steel producers cartel
based on their inability-to-pay arguments. Additional information is available
in our July
2010 EU/UK Competition Law Newsletter.