BEIJING – The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), China’s antitrust regulator, said in a statement published on its website on June 5 that it has fined Chang’an Ford Automobile Co., Ltd. (Chang’an-Ford) ¥162.8 million for price fixing.
Ford’s major joint venture in China with Chang’an Automobile Co., Ltd. had been using illegal agreements since 2013 to set a minimum price for vehicles sold by its dealers in Chongqing, where the JV is based, according to the statement.
The JV’s practices have harmed fair competition and hurt consumers’ legal rights, SAMR concluded, and the fine amounted to 4 percent of the company’s sales in Chongqing last year. The practices violated Article No. 15 in China’s Antitrust Law, according to an investigation.
Chang’an-Ford issued a statement on the same day saying that it respects SAMR’s decision and will pay the fines accordingly. It will also adopt measures to better administer regional sales management and abide by national laws and regulations in its market activities to maintain free and fair market competition.
The fine comes amid increasing trade tensions between China and the U.S. The two countries have recently started targeting companies, with China saying it would create a blacklist of foreign entities that harm Chinese businesses and the U.S. considering expanding the list of Chinese companies on its blacklist.
It also comes about 2.5 years after SAIC-GM was fined ¥200 million at the end of 2016 for similar practices it conducted during the year. That fine equated to about 4 percent of the more than ¥5 billion in related sales in 2015 for the JV.
Ford, which has been in a funk in the Chinese market with falling sales, reported losses of more than $1.5 billion in China last year.