May 29, 2018 / 3:08 PM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil watchdog lays out plan to raise competition in fuel market

(Adds details on work group in fourth paragraph)

BRASILIA, May 29 (Reuters) - Brazil’s antitrust regulator on Tuesday laid out a plan to increase competition in the fuels market, which could lower prices in the medium term after a spike that sparked a week-long strike by truckers which roiled Latin America’s largest economy.

In a study, the economic department of the Cade regulator and its technical body laid out nine measures that it says could boost competition in a sector often accused of collusion.

The proposal includes changes to the tax code and the regulatory framework, such as lifting a ban on direct sales of ethanol from producers to gasoline stations, allowing refineries and distributors to own gas stations and distributors to import fuels.

Cade and Brazil’s oil regulator ANP will set up a working group this week, comprising three representatives from each watchdog, to assess the implementation of the nine measures.

The plan should decrease local fuel prices in the medium term, the study said, in effect providing a new response to growing calls for government measures to offset rising global prices.

The government on Sunday agreed to introduce fuel subsidies and tax cuts as striking truckers demanded. But so far, officials have resisted demands to change state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA’s pricing policy that takes global prices as a benchmark.

Cade’s board will meet later on Tuesday to discuss potential actions related to the fuel crisis. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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