Freight News, Sea

Shippers hail sea-change in shipping line pricing

[ February 16, 2016   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says it welcomes commitments by 15 shipping lines to change their pricing regimes, published in the European Commission’s Official Journal on 16 February. For the first time, they will cease to announce general rate increases and publish the actual prices available to customers on an individual basis.

FTA says this will introduce a degree of transparency into maritime transport pricing for the first time.

The lines concerned have been the subject of a three-year enquiry into price signaling.

FTA adds that the news is a major victory for its British Shippers’ Council, whose members first raised concerns about uncompetitive behaviour in 2010.

The Commission has now published a notice in the EU Official Journal giving interested parties, such as shippers, one month from 16 February 2016 to comment on its proposed commitments decision, a so-called ‘market test’.

FTA director of global and European policy, Chris Welsh, said: “We welcome the Commission bringing this important case on liner shipping prices to a satisfactory close. As one of the original complainants, FTA will respond to the market test now that the Commission has published its Notice.

 “We look forward to a new clear and open approach by the shipping operators which will remove the need for our members to resort to court proceedings for competition damages, an option which has been made easier by the 2014 EC Competition Damages Directive and the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 competition legislation in the UK.”

 While the notice acknowledges that the shipping lines deny any infringements, that does not alter the Commission’s original assessment of the allegations says FTA, but points out that the Commission has agreed not to continue its investigation (and, potentially, impose fines) in exchange for a commitment from the shipping lines to significantly change their pricing behaviour in the future.

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