The European Shippers’ Council (ESC) has called for greater data monitoring by national competition authorities following recent announcements regarding shipping line collaborations which, it claims, are bringing “the container liner market one step closer to total convergence”.
In particular, the organisation which represents the logistic interests of manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers, wants a focus on “operational and juridical links between ship owners” and the “correlation between price modification and capacity modification”.
According to the ESC, a collaboration between CMA CGM and Hamburg Süd, detailed earlier this month, could increase “the risk of reducing service quality and sailing frequency, free choice for manufacturers and retailers, as well as enhancing prices”.
Earlier this week, CMA CGM, United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), and Hamburg Süd announced a vessel sharing agreement while the Ocean Three alliance between CMA CGM, UASC and China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) began in January.
Another general cooperation agreement between UASC and Hamburg Süd is to commence in April and the ESC pointed out that UASC has confirmed its German ally will take advantage of the Ocean Three network.
In a statement, the Brussels-based organisation argued that the situation will “neither improve trade nor the growth of economies”, stating: ” This new global partnership underlines the fact that the maritime liner competition should be seen from a global perspective and not at regional level.
“Uniform process and analysis framework should be developed by competition authorities to deal with this new paradigm. Looking at alliances through the wrong end of the telescope will not allow authorities to understand properly the market dynamics.”
In the ESC’s belief, the data monitoring it is calling for will help competition authorities transition from “a curing stance to a more preventing mood which is far better for economic activities”.