Thursday, August 9, 2007
Last month I blogged here about the way Chinese producers would publicly announce, and the press report, price-fixing agreements, all apparently quite unaware that such agreements violate the Price Law. Not everyone accepts these things, however. According to a Xinhua report dated July 30, 2007,
Meng Suhe, an official with the Chinese branch of the World Instant Noodle Association, told media last week that major instant noodle makers, who hold a combined 95 percent share of the domestic market, had met and made a collective decision to raise prices.
This caught the eye of Qiu Baochang, a legal consultant for the China Consumers' Association, who wrote to the National Development and Reform Commission, asking it to investigate the legitimacy of the recent rise in the price of noodles. (Interestingly, he did not go directly to court to seek relief. I believe harmed consumers are allowed to sue under the Price Law, but there are big difficulties these days in bringing collective suits - the court system basically hates them - and a collective suit is the only kind that is economically feasible in this kind of case.) So far he has received no response. (News report in English here.)
Another lawyer, Hao Jiguang, was also distressed by this report, and took another tack: he asked the Ministry of Civil Affairs to investigate whether the Chinese branch of the International Ramen Manufacturers Association (referred to in some reports as the World Instant Noodle Association) was a lawful entity. So far he has received no response. (News reports: Chinese | English.)