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South Korea’s Antitrust Regulator Launches Study to Analyze E-commerce Sector

 |  March 26, 2024

In a move aimed at ensuring fair business practices and addressing competition issues in the rapidly growing e-commerce sector, South Korea’s antitrust regulator, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), announced on Monday its plans to conduct a comprehensive study.

The FTC revealed that the study, set to commence on Tuesday, will span a four-week preliminary phase during which the commission will gather insights from various stakeholders, relevant associations, and consumers. This initiative aligns with the commission’s broader objective of safeguarding fair competition amid the surging popularity of online shopping platforms.

According to a report by the Yonhap news agency, the preliminary research will draw inspiration from similar studies conducted by global counterparts, including the European Union, Britain, and Australia. The primary focus will be on analyzing the market structure and scrutinizing the business practices of major e-commerce operators, both domestic and international.

Highlighting the necessity of such an investigation, the FTC emphasized the evolving nature of the e-commerce landscape and its profound impact on consumer lives. With concerns mounting over the dominance of a few key players in the market and the potential ramifications for consumers, the commission underscored the importance of proactive measures to address competition and innovation challenges.

Read more: South Korea Plans Meeting with US Chamber on Platform Regulation

“The e-commerce market is closely linked to the everyday lives of people, and the market and business circumstances are changing fast so that in-depth analysis is needed,” stated the FTC.

“The growing dependence on a handful of operators has raised concerns about the fairness of business practices and the possibility of consumer damage. Such an in-depth market study will help us devise preemptive responses to competition and innovation issues,” it added.

The significance of the e-commerce sector in South Korea’s economy is underscored by the notable increase in online shopping transactions over recent years. According to the report, the value of online shopping transactions surged from 190.2 trillion won ($141.61 billion) in 2021 to 209.9 trillion won in 2022, further climbing to over 227.3 trillion won last year.

As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve and shape consumer behavior, the FTC’s forthcoming study signifies a proactive step towards fostering a competitive and fair marketplace for both businesses and consumers alike. The findings of this investigation, expected to be released by the end of the year, are anticipated to provide valuable insights and pave the way for targeted regulatory interventions where necessary.

Source: SME Times