The South African competition commision (CC) has raided the offices of six carriers in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces.
In a statement, the CC said it had reasonable grounds to suspect that the South African subsidiaries of Hamburg Sud, Maersk, MSC, PIL, CMA CGM Shipping Agencies South Africa and Safmarine have engaged in collusive practices.
In particular, the CC suspected that the companies had, among other things, fixed the incremental rates for the shipment of cargo from Asia to South Africa in contravention of the competition act.
The CC’s commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said: “Any cartel by shipping liners in this region results in inflated prices for cargo transportation. Cartels of this nature increase the costs of trading in the region and render the region uncompetitive in the world markets.”
The operation is part of an ongoing investigation based on information from a member of the public, whose identity has not been released by the commission.
Documents and electronic data will be seized and analysed to determine if the law has been broken.
A Maersk spokesperson told CM: “The fact the CC carries out such inspections does not mean that a company has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”
“Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in the SACC’s investigations into suspected infringements of competition rules,” he continued, “as the investigation is ongoing, we cannot share further details at this point.”