The three Chinese antitrust authorities – Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) – overall remained very active in 2016. Besides enforcing the Anti-Monopoly Law (AML), they have been busy consulting with stakeholders on proposed guidelines aimed to improve both processes and the efficiency of their work. They have also been reliably vocal in advocating the merits of a competition-driven economy.
The continued push for increased enforcement translated into a record number of transactions cleared by MOFCOM in 2016. While the MOFCOM review is progressively streamlined and moving closer to other jurisdictions in terms of process as well as substance, parties to a deal should be aware that the Chinese merger control regime retains distinctive features. We anticipate 2017 to be another busy year for MOFCOM; it will continue to build on experience and is expected to promulgate, possibly in preparation for the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the AML, updated implementing regulations.
Increased activity is also expected on the behavioural front, with the automotive and life science industries as well as public utilities in particular continuing to be in the spotlight of the NDRC and the SAIC. Six new guidelines on IPRs, the automotive industry, leniency, fines, exemptions and commitments, which will clarify the law and serve as enforcement guides, may also be adopted before the end of the year.
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