The Asian Shippers Council (ASC) at its annual meeting on this week in Shenzhen, China, has objected to the proposal by Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM to form the P3 Network.
The group said the vessel-sharing agreement by the world's three largest container shipping companies would result "in the biggest concentration of capacity ever seen in the history of containerization. The sheer size will give P3 the capability to dictate the direction of the freight market."
ASC also said one of its members, the China Shippers Association, has already raised its concerns with Chinese regulators including the State Development & Reform Commission, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Commerce, "asking them to intervene to block the formation of P3 in accordance with China's anti-trust law."
As the ball is now in the court of the regulators, we urge them to think long and hard before giving their approval for P3, for it may well be the game changer we do not need."
In other matters, the ASC said:
- Opposing a draft amendment by the U.N.'s International Maritime Organization to require mandatory verification of container weights is at the "top of our agenda" and that they "reject the decision which has been imposed on us, as we were not properly represented at any of the IMO meetings convened to discuss the issue." It said it would raise the issue with the maritime authorities of its members.
- They are viewing with concern "the volatility of the container freight market, with cycles so short that it is difficult to tell one month from the next what the freight rates would be."
- They are applauding an investigation by the European Commission of collusion by carriers, an apparent reference to the recently announced investigation into possible "price signalling" by container carriers.
- The group is in support of a requirement by the Chinese government for shipping lines to filed freight rates with the Shanghai Shipping Exchange 30 days in advance.
- It is "cheered by the recent announcement of the Sri Lankan president to make it illegal for shipping lines to collect terminal handling and other charges. With effect from next January, Sri Lankan shippers will only have to pay an all-in rate structure for imports and exports."
- They are "delighted with progress made in New Zealand, where a new bill is being introduced to remove the special dispensation according to shipping lines in the New Zealand Commerce Act. ... We have fought long and hard to see an end to cartels in container liner shipping, the cause of many of our woes. We will soldier on so that the good work will spill over to the rest of the region.
- The organization is pleased with progress made in the fight against pirates off the coast of Somalia, but alarmed about the escalation in piracy off West Africa and recent attacks against ships in the Suez Canal with rocket-propelled grenades.
The ASC elected Toto Dingantoro, chairman of the Indonesian National Shippers' Council, as the chairman of ASC for the ensuing term; Cai Jia Xiang, vice chairman of the China Shippers Association, as vice chairman; and John Lu, chairman of the Singapore National Shippers' Council, as honorary advisor to the ASC.