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Regulator to take measures against shippers' alleged price fixing

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Samsung Heavy Industries LNG ship / Yonhap
Samsung Heavy Industries LNG ship / Yonhap

South Korea's antitrust regulator will soon decide on punitive actions against the country's leading shipper, HMM, and other shipping lines over suspected price fixing, government sources said Sunday.

Since 2018, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has been looking into allegations that HMM and others colluded to fix higher freight rates for a Southeast Asian sea route.

After expanding its investigation into foreign firms, the regulator informed 23 shippers at home and abroad in May that they may face up to 800 billion won ($684 million) in fines for the alleged violation of the fair trade act if they are found guilty.

The KFTC plans to hold its plenary meeting next month to finalize the level of punitive actions against the shippers, according to the sources.

Local shippers fiercely protested the regulator's move. They claimed they are allowed to take collective actions on freight rates and other contract conditions for transport under the country's maritime shipping act.

But the regulator believes their move cannot be viewed as a justifiable act as they failed to meet certain criteria under the law.

A ruling party lawmaker proposed a revised bill that says collective actions by shippers will not be subject to the antitrust act.

The KFTC expressed opposition to the bill, saying that the legislative move runs counter to global trends. (Yonhap)


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