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China fines Chrysler $5.5 mn for price fixing

Beijing,12th September-2014,(IANS/EFE) : Chrysler has been fined 31.7 million yuan (around $5.5 million) for alleged price fixing, becoming the latest foreign carmaker to be punished in the Chinese government’s anti-monopoly campaign.

Chinese authorities said Thursday that Chrysler signed a distribution agreement with some dealers between 2012 and 2014 to adhere to prices recommended by the manufacturer.

China fines Chrysler $5.5 mn for price fixing

The government also announced that three Chrysler dealers in Shanghai would also have to pay 2.14 million yuan for their part in the arrangement.

Monopoly practices carried out by the American firm and the three dealers have violated the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and other companies, the Chinese anti-monopoly agency said.

While establishing minimum retail prices is an accepted practice in some countries, Chinese regulators appear to view it as contrary to the notion of a free market.

Besides Chrysler, the probe has led so far to fines for German luxury automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz and for 12 Japanese manufacturers of spare parts.

Audi was fined 248.6 million yuan.

Shortly after the investigation was announced, some of the firms cut prices on certain products and services.

The anti-monopoly campaign has been criticised by the Chambers of Commerce of the European Union and the US, who say that it targets only foreign companies and benefits big state conglomerates.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang rejected that criticism in a speech Wednesday to the Tianjin Economic Forum.

Only 10 percent of the investigations have focused on the practices committed by foreign companies in China, the premier said.

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