China's vitamin C makers ready for anti-trust battle

Chinese vitamin C manufacturers are preparing their defence to an
anti-trust case filed by two American firms that allege
price-fixing and control of the market since 2001, writes
Dominique Patton.

The case is the first anti-trust case brought in the US against Chinese exporters, according to the People's Daily​ newspaper.

Wellcome Pharmaceutical Co received a summons from a US court last Wednesday, and has hired lawyers to deal with the case, according to a statement on its website.

Other companies involved were previously also busy preparing for the case although they had not been officially informed, said a report in the China Daily​.

"Group leaders have negotiated how to deal with it as soon as they got the information,"​ an anonymous official at Shijiazhuang Pharmaceutical Group in North China's Hebei Province told the paper. The group, its Hong Kong-listed company and a subsidiary were all sued.

Feed additive maker Animal Science Products and Ranis Company filed petitions against six Chinese vitamin C producers at the Supreme Court of California in late February.

They claim that vitamin C customers in the US paid more for vitamin C as a result of the alleged cartel.

Chinese manufacturers argued that their average export price of vitamin C to the United States was $4.57 per kg while the global average was $4.63.

Their prices were still lower than those of other major manufacturers, despite increases last year owing to higher energy and transport costs.

China makes 60 per cent of the world's vitamin C supply, with the four leading Chinese producers making 60,000 tons. About 80 per cent of this is exported.

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