Answer ... In 2018 China’s National People’s Congress passed legislation to consolidate the previous three antitrust bodies into one. The Anti-monopoly Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) was officially established on 21 March 2018 and now carries out merger reviews. As a result of the consolidation of these bodies, although the specific information of each case will still be treated strictly confidentially, staff working on different antitrust matters now have greater knowledge at their disposal and more opportunities to exchange experiences with each other.
One notable trend that is emerging is an increase in the number of investigations of transactions which have not been notified for merger review, with penalties imposed in 35 cases by the SAMR and the Ministry of Commerce, the former authority responsible for merger review.
The Anti-monopoly Law is also being amended. The legislative plan of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress divides legislative projects into three categories:
- First category: draft laws with relatively mature legislative conditions and for consideration during the term of office (69 projects).
- Second category: draft laws that need to be submitted for consideration when legislative conditions are ripe (47 projects).
- Third category: legislative projects for which continued study is required.
The Anti-monopoly Law is listed as a second category project and the term of the Standing Committee is from March 2018 to March 2023.
The SAMR has included the amendment of the Anti-monopoly Law in the 2019 legislative work plan. The Expert Group of the Anti-monopoly Committee of the State Council has also launched relevant research and drafted corresponding research reports. And as recently reported by the Xinhua News Agency, a revised draft of the law has been prepared and will be submitted to relevant departments “in a timely manner”.