New rules for commodity price indexes
Measures to improve information transparency, standardize collation
China on Thursday unveiled new rules on the management of price indexes for key commodities and services as part of its ongoing efforts to curb unreasonable price swings and maintain stable prices in the commodity market.
The new rules, which will take effect from Aug 1, will standardize behaviors such as price index compilation as well as information transparency and disclosure, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic regulator.
The new rules stipulate that price index providers should be independent of the direct stakeholders in the commodity and service markets covered by the index, and the basic information of the index providers, the index compiling plan and other necessary information should be fully disclosed.
According to the regulation, authorities can conduct compliance reviews and take disciplinary measures for noncompliance.
Meng Wei, a spokeswoman for the NDRC, told a news conference in Beijing that the new measures will help ensure stable prices for bulk commodities and other key goods and services and promote the healthy development of China's price index market.
The new regulation and Meng's remarks came after the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration announced plans on Wednesday to release copper, aluminum and zinc from the national reserves to boost market supply and maintain stable commodity prices.
"Depending on market changes, we will also work with relevant parties to release batches of (reserves) in a timely manner for some time to come, to increase the market supply, ease the strain on enterprises costs and guide the prices to return to a reasonable range," said Meng.
According to Meng, the NDRC has worked with relevant departments to take a series of measures to tackle the unreasonable and rapid commodity price gains this year, including increasing export tariffs on certain steel products, holding meetings to urge key enterprises in the sector to maintain normal market order and establish a regular consultation mechanism for joint supervision of both futures and spot markets.
"The series of measures have gradually taken the heat out of market speculation, and prices of some commodities such as iron ore, steel and copper have started returning to normal," said Meng. "The NDRC will closely monitor changes in the market, strengthen regulation of both futures and spot markets and maintain the normal order of the market."
Zhou Maohua, an analyst at China Everbright Bank's financial market department, said over-speculation has been the main reason for higher prices.
"China is in urgent need of a key commodity and service price index with independent operation, scientific compilation rules and transparent information disclosure,"Zhou added. "The commodity and service price index is one of the important references for investors to make investment decisions. With the new regulation, investors may gradually return to rationality, which will help curb unreasonable price swings in the market and improve the effective allocation of market resources."
Zhou expects most bulk commodity prices to stabilize gradually due to the steady recovery of the global economy and the tightening monetary environment.
According to him, more efforts need to be made to boost supplies, keep prices stable, increase support for some hard-hit enterprises with development prospects and prevent rapid price increases from being passed on to consumers.
Tao Jin, deputy director of the macroeconomic research center of the Suning Institute of Finance, said the recent commodity price rally has led to an increase in production costs for Chinese companies in some mid－and downstream manufacturing industries.
"More efforts should be made to increase domestic supplies, crack down on market violations and strengthen China's cooperative development of various foreign mineral resources. Domestic steel and iron companies and other manufacturing and extraction companies need to ramp up efforts to expand globally and increase overseas investment," Tao said.