China has announced the creation of a new free-trade zone covering nearly 29 square kilometres on the eastern outskirts of Shanghai. The Chinese government says the new FTZ would open up the services sector to increased competition and would also serve as a testing site for future financial reforms, including a convertible yuan and liberalised interest rates. “It follows the trend of global economic developments and reflects a more active strategy of opening-up,” Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng told the state-run Xinhua news agency. ACCC accuses SalesForce and Origin of misleading door-to-door claims Consumer watchdog the ACCC initiated Federal Court proceedings against marketing company SalesForce and Origin Energy over its door-to-door sales practices, marking the fifth such case against an energy retailer. The ACCC alleges sales representatives harassed or coerced some customers, with some customers told there was a government requirement for them to switch their energy supplier to Origin. “The ACCC alleges that SalesForce sales representatives acting on behalf of Origin Energy made numerous false and/or misleading statements to consumers and breached the unsolicited consumer agreement (UCA) provisions of the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says. “The allegations also involve several instances of unconscionable conduct as well as instances of alleged undue harassment and/or coercion by sales representatives, which the ACCC considers to be particularly serious.” Auto component price fixing allegations The ACCC has accused a number of Japanese firms of price fixing, alleging the practice has pushed up the cost of some cars in Australia for consumers. As part of the proceedings, the ACCC accuses auto parts distributor Yazaki of pushing up the cost of wire harnesses for Toyota cars. “Wire harnesses can be anything up to 8% of the cost of a car, so this conduct has a serious impact on what people pay for a motor vehicle,” Sims says. “We also instituted proceedings this year for a number of Japanese companies in relation to ball bearings. And we are close to settlement with one or two of those companies at the moment.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.46% to 15258.24 and the Aussie dollar is down to US93.12 cents.
The consumer watchdog has issued a warning about widespread unscrupulous industry practices in the door-to-door sales industry, but the industry says many of the practices raised by the ACCC have been addressed.
The competition watchdog is reminding small businesses to review its mandatory reporting regime regarding product safety, which has triggered 40 product recalls in six months.
The ACCC has urged hospitality businesses to ensure accurate pricing on Sundays and public holidays after a former café owner was fined $20,000 for failing to provide all-inclusive pricing on menus.