South Korean Regulator Probes Shippers’ Alleged Price-Fixing Of Japan Routes

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission began reviewing possible punitive measures against a number of shippers over their alleged collusion in fixing freight rates for the Korea-Japan sea routes for nearly two decades, impacting both countries’ economies and causing direct and indirect harm to consumers.

The Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) held a deliberation session as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations that about 15 domestic and foreign shippers had colluded to fix higher freight rates for the sea routes between the two Asian powerhouses since 2002 in order to gain illegal profits.

A separate session to decide penalties for similar fixing allegations over the South Korea-China sea routes is scheduled to take place next week, according to the regulator.

In January, the KFTC decided to impose a combined 96.2 billion won (US$76.14 million) in fines on 23 Korean and foreign shippers for collusion to fix freight costs for Southeast Asian sea routes.

Collusion has been a recurrent and frequent issue for Japanese shippers, as the island country’s enormous freight shipping sector has faced other serious allegations of collusion and price-fixing in recent years.

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