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(LEAD) Anti-trust watchdog chief vows stern measures against unfair biz practices

All News 17:10 December 10, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 3 paras)

SEJONG, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- The chief of South Korea's anti-trust watchdog said Monday that his agency will take stern measures against any unfair business practices involving big firms and their suppliers.

"Addressing the issue of unfair business practices is one of the top priorities for the Fair Trade Commission (FTC)," FTC Chairman Kim Sang-jo said during a meeting with heads of small steel firms in Pohang.

FTC Chairman Kim Sang-jo speaks during a meeting with heads of small steel firms in the eastern coastal city of Pohang on Dec. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

The FTC has been stressing that it will promote fair business practices and take stern measures against big companies that abuse their dominant positions.

Smaller suppliers argue that large players have been involved in unfair business transactions, such as delayed payments, returns and reducing supplied goods.

Many policymakers have blamed such practices for squeezing the bottom lines of smaller companies and licensed shops, which they claim has widened the profit gap with high-earning large enterprises.

Kim has stressed that creating a level playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises is very important in a country where family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol, dominate the economy.

The government raised the minimum wage by 16.4 percent for this year, marking the biggest hike since 2001.

The increase was aimed at boosting wages and bridging the wealth gap, but critics say such a hike could pose a threat to owners of independent businesses, which account for about 25 percent of jobs.

Kim admitted that smaller firms are facing difficulties from the higher minimum wage and a cut in working hours, adding that he would ask the government to adjust the pace of future minimum wage increases.

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