The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has approved the planned 2M vessel sharing agreement between Denmark’s Maersk Line and Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), the world’s two largest container shippers, Reuters reports.
The U.S. approval is reportedly to become effective on Saturday, October 11. Four out of five commissioners at the FMC voted not to ask for additional information on the impact of the 2M on exporters and ports.
The alliance still needs to be cleared by European and Chinese regulators before it becomes operational. If approved by the other two authorities, Maersk and MSC will pool 185 ships on transatlantic, transpacific and European routes, which Maersk says will save the companies close to USD 350 million annually.
This September Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou visited China and met with the director-general of Commerce Ministry’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau, Shang Ming, with whom he discussed the Ministry’s decision to block the previous P3 alliance, the new pact and monopoly issues. Back in June, China’s Ministry of Commerce rejected the P3 venture which apart from Maerk Line and MSC involved France’s CMA CGM on competition grounds.
Earlier this month, the Chairman of the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) Denis Choumert warned that the proposed 2M alliance could pose a serious threat to the market.
In a letter sent to the FMC, Mr. Choumert warned that the “2M operators might set up an extremely damaging situation to world trade.”
The letter also stated that allowing Maersk Line and MSC to discuss and agree on some core parameters of the services can lead to a decrease of the competitive environment of the trade concerned by this agreement.