European Shippers Speak Out on Alliances


Published Jun 22, 2015 7:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Shippers’ Council released a white paper on container transport competition at the start of the global summit on maritime container transport competition in Brussels this week.

After Washington in 2013, this is the second meeting between authorities from the United States, Europe and China. Competition watchdogs are gathering to analyse recent global evolutions of the competition landscape of maritime transport of containers caused by strengthening of alliances.

Indeed, the evolution of the market towards a monopoly of four alliances with impressive market shares in certain trade lanes (for example, the G6 has over 45 percent market share on routes between North America and North Europe) and their global reach requires a review of the procedures and safeguards in place until then, says the European Shippers’ Council in a statement.

“Shippers can only welcome these improvements in competitiveness and service quality; however they stay alert on the potential risks of concentration such as reducing of number of direct calls, increasing of transit time or artificial capacity management.”

In order to safeguard from competition breach, European Shippers Council has attracted attention of regulators of maritime competition on the necessity to prior control and monitoring for cooperation between ship operators.

Shippers called on participants in the global summit to jointly define the concept of “relevant market” used in competition analysis so that market shares are calculated uniformly.

They also recommend the creation of a harmonized global file submitted by the ship operators to the competition authorities. It needs to include all the information needed to properly analyse the actual scope of cooperation as well as its governance structure and nautical resources used. These files must be filed for all technical and operational cooperation, whatever their sizes, and must be open to feedback from other market players.

The white paper is available here.