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Cartel Bill passes first reading

Craig Foss
24 July, 2012

A Bill designed to encourage pro-competitive collaboration passed its first reading in Parliament today, says Commerce Minister Craig Foss.

"The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill promotes economic growth by enabling pro-competitive collaboration between firms, while also deterring hard-core cartel conduct.

"Collaborative arrangements can help businesses innovate and tap into overseas markets. This is especially important for an export-focused country like New Zealand," says Mr Foss.

The Bill will establish a new clearance regime, which allows businesses to test a potential collaboration with the Commerce Commission prior to entering into an arrangement.

"The clearance exemption will contribute towards a productive and efficient economy that will help create jobs and boost exports," says Mr Foss.

The breadth of the exemption will provide greater certainty for businesses that are proposing to enter into pro-competitive, efficiency-enhancing collaborative arrangements.

Mr Foss says the government is also taking a strong stance against hard-core cartel conduct.

"Activities like price fixing and bid rigging will not be tolerated.

"Anyone who is intentionally engaging in cartel behaviour will be treated in the same way as tax evaders, fraudsters and other white collar criminals," says Mr Foss.

The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has been referred to the Commerce Committee for consideration.