Cartel conduct will be a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment, under a bill that's been introduced to parliament by Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi.
A cartel is a group of apparently independent companies who get together to increase their collective profits by price fixing or limiting supply.
Mr Faafoi says the existing civil law regime is insufficient.
"Price fixing and other cartel conduct harms honest New Zealand businesses, consumers and the wider economy," he said today.
"My hope is that the risk of imprisonment acts as a strong deterrent and reflects the seriousness of the harm that can be caused."
Mr Faafoi says honest businesses should have no concerns.
"This isn't about limiting anyone's ability to run their business and we will retain sound provisions of the current legislation, for example allowing collaboration between competitors."