ESC, GSF to Tackle Consolidation in Container Shipping

Representatives of exporters and importers from around the world, the European Shippers’ Council and the Global Shippers’ Forum, have joined forces to advance and protect their members’ interests in the face of unprecedented change in the global container shipping industry.

The move was made amid shippers’ fears that the contraction of the shipping market into a small number of alliances and the use of vessels with a capacity of over 18,000 TEU will reduce their choice of carrier and the quality of the services delivered as “carriers operating within such arrangements ­cannot compete among themselves with regard to the agreed capacity, sailing frequency, transit times, ports of call and service level.”

In its paper “The Implications of Mega-Ships and Alliances for Competition and Total Supply Chain Efficiency: An Economic Perspective,” Global Shippers’ Forum offered a range of options for national and regional competition authorities on how to approach the regulation and oversight of the new shipping alliances.

Namely, the paper states that competition authorities and regulators should ensure sufficient independent competition on key trade routes, given that the emergence of alliances has produced barriers for new entrants and has made it nearly impossible for independent lines to compete on some trades.

Additionally, GSF said that competition authorities should repeal existing exemptions from antitrust laws and implement effective monitoring of alliances, including direct intervention to preserve competition where appropriate.

“I am delighted that ESC has joined GSF in order to promote and defend shippers’ interests at global level. GSF has made the voice of shippers heard in the UN agencies responsible for the regulation of the maritime sector and supported many of its member associations in advancing more transparent regulation of the container shipping industry in their home markets,” Bob Ballantyne, GSF Chairman, said.

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