Liner Shipping Conferences Facing Intense Pressure

Liners are enjoying the current freight rates, but will shippers finally put an end to what remains of conferences?

Basically, conferences are cartels, which are viewed as anti-competitive and allow sellers to charge more, while buyers are stuck with a disadvantage in purchasing power. Furthermore, conferences project a lack of service because there is no incentive to provide good services when all of the other liners? rates are the same.

Many years ago, conference liners meant that cargoes were transported on fixed schedules versus non-conference carriers, which were considered tramp services. Back then, each liner had the same tariff rates, and anyone deviating from the conference tariff was voted out, including conference shippers.

Today, the EU is reviewing conferences and whether they should retain their exemption for the EU competition laws. The EU Commission isn?t high on the conference system because they are perceived as anti-competitive and that they are in fact cartels.