ACCC renews focus on questionable trade practice

THE competition watchdog has confirmed it will keep a close eye on the major supermarkets, with a specific focus on cartel behaviour, as part of its new compliance and enforcement policy.

In the policy, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission outlined its priorities for 2013 and sets out how it plans to deal with issues, including cartel behaviour.

While ACCC chairman Rod Sims has not made any indication that cartel behaviour exists, the statement reveals a renewed focus on the questionable trading practice.

"Some forms of conduct are so detrimental to consumer welfare and the competitive process that the ACCC will always assess them as a priority, irrespective of which sector of the economy the activity occurs," Mr Sims said.

"These are in the areas of cartel conduct, anti-competitive agreements and misuse of market power."

The watchdog will also increase its regulatory role in competition matters, with 30 in-depth competition investigations already under way.

"As a specific area of focus, the ACCC has maintained reference to placing priority on competition and consumer issues arising in highly concentrated sectors and, in particular, the supermarkets and fuel sectors," Mr Sims said.

"We have also decided to place further emphasis on online competition and consumer issues.

"This includes conduct which may impede emerging competition between online traders or limit the ability of small businesses to effectively compete online."


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