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Fair Trade Commission investigates toilet paper firms for price fixing

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A toilet paper panic has swept across Taiwan over the past few days. Today vendors and manufacturers were called before the Fair Trade Commission, for an investigation into possible collusion on price fixing and even merchandise hoarding. Premier Lai Ching-te promised to make sure prices stabilize at a reasonable level, and asked the public not to panic-buy paper products.Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission convened discussions into possible price fixing, inviting manufacturers and resellers of household paper products to participate. Eight major industry players attended. The commission suspects that the companies galvanized an illegal market-wide price hike through the media. However the companies’ reps gave only cursory explanations, unwilling to say any more than necessary.The Fair Trade Commission reiterated that price collusion is illegal. It will initiate talks with individual companies on Thursday, to work out exactly how each firm came to raise its prices. The commission will also look into possible hoarding of goods. Enterprises with turnover in excess of NT$100 million could be fined up to 10% if found guilty of infringements; the meeting was a stern shot across the bow to remind companies not to challenge public authority. Perng Shaw-jiinFair Trade Commission SpokesmanNo enterprise, whether a manufacturer or a supplier, is permitted to cross this line in the sand.Lai Ching-tePremierThere is no need for concern over supply. Everybody will be able to buy toilet paper and the price will also be stable and reasonable. There won’t be any major fluctuations, so we ask everyone not to panic or hoard paper.The Cabinet is clamping down on the toilet paper issue, with these interviews and investigations by the Fair Trade Commission, and further inspections at the supply end by the Consumer Protection Committee. The investigations will delay the pre-announced legal hike to toilet paper prices, initially scheduled for mid-March, now expected at the end of March. The pressing question is whether prices will have to be frozen in the end.
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