Maersk, MSC Call US Regulator to Approve 2M

Senior executives representing shipping giants Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Maersk Line are in Washington to clear any doubts the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) might have on giving the green light to the recently-announced 2M vessel-sharing agreement between the two companies.

The executives asked U.S. regulators to swiftly approve their joint venture so as to avoid delay of the 2M launch scheduled for January next year, the Wall Street Journal quoted sources close to the matter as saying.

The US FMC has 45 days to review the proposal, but the clock could be stopped if the body were to decide to ask carriers additional questions on the matter. The regulations state that once the 45-day process is stopped, it can not be continued, but rather a new 45-day review period starts.

If all goes well, the 2M could be approved in the U.S. on October 11, which according to industry experts is looking more and more unrealistic.

Maersk signed a 10-year Vessel Sharing Agreement with MSC on the Asia-Europe, Transatlantic and Transpacific trades in July.

If given the “go ahead” the alliance would assume control of a 35% market share in Asia-to-Europe trade loop, cutting a combined USD 1 billion in operational costs.

The VSA will include 185 vessels with an estimated capacity of 2.1 million TEU, deployed on 21 strings.

The agreement was reached one month after China’s Ministry of Commerce refused to approve the P3 alliance which included the two firms and France’s CMA CGM.

The 2M VSA differs from the earlier proposed P3 alliance in two important aspects: the combined market share is much smaller, and this cooperation is a pure VSA. There will be no jointly owned independent entity with executional powers. It is projected that 2M would give the two companies less than 30 percent on the Asia-Europe route.

The 2M alliance will also be featured on the agenda of the upcoming annual US-China maritime-agreement consultation in Shanghai in November, where the US representatives hope to learn of China’s outlook on the proposed alliance, as well as to find out more about the review process.

Both MSC and Maersk announced that they improved their East-West network services with new schedules to routes that fall within the 2M scope.

World Maritime News Staff

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