The guidelines for unfair trade practices include monopoly, (reduction or limitation of competition) in the fruit buying business which consists of 1) not specifying the date or time of fruit picking, 2) negotiation of the price of fruit purchase below what is specified in the contract, 3) unfair trade practices that can cause damage, and 4) collusion in fixing fruit price. Any fruit growers who encounter issues, being exploited or treated unfairly by a fruit buying business operator (Lhong) can make a complaint directly to The Office of Trade Competition Commission or via the website and other channels immediately.
Mr. Santichai Santawanpas, Commissioner, Trade Competition Commission and Spokesman of The Trade Competition Commission, revealed that particularly during the season (when a wide variety of fruits are provided to market), fruit growers may be exploited by fruit buying business operators (Lhong) due to their lower bargaining power. The Trade Competition Commission (TCC) has, therefore, emphasized the importance of supervising fruit growers to guarantee more fairness by imposing strict guidelines on unfair trade practices including monopolies, (reduction or limitation of competition) which is effective from 8 September 2020.
The aforementioned guidelines stipulate unfair trade behaviors that may constitute an offense pursuant to Section 57 of the Trade Competition Act 2017 consisting of:
1. Not specifying the date or time of fruit picking, using the superior bargaining power including unfair trade conditions that prevent farmers from selling fruit to other fruit buyers, etc.
2. Negotiation of the purchase price below what is stipulated in the contract for no justifiable reason, determination of fruit qualities or any other conditions that are unfair, etc.
3. Delaying fruit picking, failing to collect fruit in the amount agreed in the contract or picking only a certain amount of fruit including other behaviors that are considered unfair trade practices, etc.
4. Collusion to monopolise or reduce competition, such as jointly agreeing on a specific purchase price or limiting the quantity of goods or jointly determining the trading area, etc.
Mr. Santichai added that there is a problem of fruit growers being exploited every year. The Trade Competition Commission (TCC) is aware of the grievances of farmers in this regard and has instructed the Office of Trade Competition Commission (OTCC) to supervise fairness under trade competition law and seriously punish offenders. There have been 10 complaints regarding unfair trade practices by the fruit buying business operators (Lhong) from farmers in the eastern region. One of which was found guilty of unfair trade practices according to Section 57 and was fined. The maximum fine is 10% of the income in the year of the offense. The other 8 cases are being investigated by the subcommittee, and are expected to obtain the findings which will be presented to the Trade Competition Commission (TCC) for consideration soon. Another case was closed because it is a case of civil disputes that do not fall into the scope of the trade competition law due to the relatively high rate of fine. Therefore, fruit buying business operators (Lhong) should be mindful of trade practices that may be considered an offense under the unfair trade practices guidelines including monopoly. Any fruit growers who encounter an issue or are being exploited or treated unfairly by a fruit buying business (Lhong) can make a complaint directly to the Office of Trade Competition Commission or via the website www.otcc.or.th or telephone number 02-199-5444, as well as email: [email protected]
Published : May 25, 2021
By : THE NATION