April 20 deadline set to merge Chinese antitrust agencies; new regime fully functional by end-June

12 April 2018 8:13am
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11 April 2018. Analysis by Eliot Gao.

China’s newly formed State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR, has set an April 20 deadline to start integration work and merge the country’s three antitrust agencies into one single authority. It will take several more weeks for the new regime to be fully operational, a senior official said.

“The functions and staff [of the three agencies] will be merged into SAMR by April 20,” Yang Jiajia, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission, told a conference* in Washington, DC.

According to the government’s institutional reform timetable, SAMR will merge the antitrust departments of the NDRC, Ministry of Commerce, and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce within the coming week, Yang said.

The government will complete personnel arrangements and regulatory function plans by the end of June, she added.

Yang said that both the NDRC’s price supervision and antimonopoly enforcement functions will be transferred into the new regime under SAMR.

The integration work will wrap by the end of September, Yang said. She noted that despite ongoing restructuring plans, the regulator’s daily antitrust work won’t be affected.

Since the Antimonopoly Law was enacted in August 2008, China’s competition enforcement had been carried out by the three agencies. The NDRC’s Price Supervision and Antimonopoly Bureau regulates price-related antitrust matters. SAIC’s Antimonopoly and Anti-Unfair Competition Enforcement Bureau oversees non-price-related antitrust issues. Mofcom’s Antimonopoly Bureau is tasked with merger concerns.

Last month, China's government announced a sweeping agency reorganization. The move is seen as enhancing competition regulators' stature and authority. 

China said yesterday that SAMR has been officially established. The government also unveiled key roles within the new regime, including appointing Zhang Mao, previously the SAIC’s minister, as the minister for SAMR. 

It isn't immediately clear who will head SAMR’s antitrust department or how restructuring efforts to bring together the three bodies that handle enforcement will be carried out.

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