The European Shippers Council is expressing concern about anti-competitive action by companies in the container liner industry and has asked the European Commission to investigate.
ESC said today it has been holding “a high level meeting in response to the worrying news about further potential anti-competitive developments in the shipping liner market.”
The council said it “considers this a sufficiently serious and urgent matter to raise it at the European Commission level and to request DG Competition should launch a special investigation into this market development.”
“Already in the past two years a few examples of apparently coordinated moves have been highlighted, including the simultaneous application of slow-steaming conditions or instant service reduction by all the major liner players,” ESC said, adding “some recent market announcements cast some doubt about the full application of market mechanisms in this industry.”
ESC said many refrigerated cargo shippers were just informed by various liner carrier groups that starting Jan. 1 that a general rate increase of $1,500 per reefer box will be implemented, "in many cases, regardless of the loading and unloading ports.”
The Brussels-based group added that “Last week a number of ship owners communicated their intention to increase the rates for shipping a container from Asia to the Mediterranean by a staggering 66 percent and from China to North Europe by a huge 35 percent.
“Both announced rate increases came as a surprise considering the market situation in which an imbalance exists between an over-supply of liner capacity and low demand for that liner capacity," ESC said. "Furthermore, at this time of the year, there is a cyclical downturn as most Christmas season cargoes have been shipped in October." - Chris Dupin