Seoul to consider market efficiency in antitrust issue with platform operators

2021.11.18 13:42:50 | 2021.11.18 15:03:01

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]이미지 확대

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

Contribution to market efficiency will be factored in when studying the unfair practice of dominant platform operator, said the administrator of South Korea’s antitrust agency.

“Fair trade rules and guidelines on online platform operators will be reviewed in a balanced perspective to uphold fair market competition as well as to promote innovation and industrial dynamics,” said Joh Sung-wook, chief of Fair Trade Commission, at the Economist Club event hosted by Maeil Business Newspaper on Tuesday.

Unlike the rule of thumb in fair trade administration to study antitrust issues on how much harm has been done on market competition, whether the business activity has helped to advance innovation and raise efficiency would be taken into account in the case involving a platform operator, she said.

“When a complaint is raised with unfair business practice by platform operator, we will study whether the action has helped to stimulate innovation and enhance consumer well-being as well as whether it has barred improvement in existing products and services or new entry,” she said.

An example of contribution to market efficiency would be promoting investment in a certain field, reduction of trade costs, improvement of consumer service, or prevention of free-riding.

An action hampering with market advance would be strictly judged such as in the case of publishment on Google for prohibiting smartphone makers from using other operating systems than its Android system.

Fair trade standards will also be revised to better reflect the online platform industry’s actual activities. FCC’s review for market dominance will include app download, visiting frequency, and other factors when determining a platform’s market share.

Separately, Joh hinted of finalizing the FCC’s decision soon on shipping freight rate fixing case that has stoked strong protest from shippers. Multiple ocean carriers from home and abroad have been accused of fixing freight rates on the Southeast Asia route. FCC is expected to slap up to 800 billion won ($677 million).

By Baek Sang-kyung and Cho Jeehyun

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