China's top economic planner yesterday said it has fined 18 chemicals producers 457 million yuan ( million) for monopolistic pricing.
These companies collaborated to raise prices of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used widely in buildings, health care and household appliances, last year, the National Development and Reform Commission found.
They were each fined 1-2 percent of their annual sales last year. The 12 million tons of PVC they produced last year accounted for three quarters of China's total output.
From March to December last year, these companies held six meetings to exchange information on prices and sales. They then produced 13 agreements on price fixing after discussions through messaging app WeChat.
Hubei Yihua Group, one of China's largest chemicals and fertilizer producers, and China National Salt Industry Corp Jilantai Salt Chemical Group, a state-owned salt and chemicals giant, played a leading role and organized the meetings, the NDRC said.
The illegal price increases increased burden on downstream producers who need to buy PVC as a raw material. The price increases eventually led to higher costs for consumers, the NDRC said.
The NDRC said it will keep monitoring domestic industries to ensure fair competition and allow the market to play a more decisive role.