The Venezuelan Government and 17 private companies have signed a deal to establish fair prices for garments and household goods.

The Organic Law of Fair Prices, which came into effect on 23 January, was approved last week by President Nicolas Maduro as a tool to address speculation that companies were selling items at prices up to 2,000% more than their real value.

The new law, the Government says, is designed to help "build a healthy economy for the Venezuelan people". It has been signed by companies including Pull and Bear, Timberland, Zara, Arcadia and Aldo.

"I want us to value in its right place this step we are taking concerning the Organic Law of Fair Prices," said Maduro. "This law is not to fear but to win, to work and is part of the body of laws to construct a new domestic economic, productive, diversified, inclusive order. Steps we are taking are at a good pace, they are gradually showing that it is correct to apply new rules so that everyone wins."

Maduro stressed the actions are necessary to "return the economy to normal" and achieve "a balance of productive forces" in order to "gain social equality and prosperity for the country".

The Fair Prices law sets a maximum upper limit of 30% on production cost to ensure fair prices.