15 November 2014

[151114.EN.SEA] Maersk Lawyer Defends Shipping Alliances as Promoters of Competition

MAERSK lawyer Camilla Jain Holtse, a competition and compliance specialist, says vessel sharing agreements promote competition and help smaller players stay in business.

Speaking at the European Maritime Law Organisation's (EMLO) annual conference in London, Ms Holtse said her company was not opposed to regulators monitoring behaviour of alliance members.

She said there was no evidence that competition had been harmful on the transpacific trade where historically there has been a larger VSA presence than in the Asia-Europe trades.

Over the past decade, freight rates have declined less in the Asia-Europe trades despite fewer VSAs than on the Pacific, she said.

Ms Holtse said the ability to share ships gives smaller lines the chance to serve more trades than would be possible if they had to provide tonnage of their own. From the shippers' point of view, "customers will still have 20 business cards on the table", she said.

What appears to concern regulators are not VSAs themselves, but the scale of the four mega groupings now dominating the container shipping industry.

US Federal Maritime Commissioner Richard Lidinsky said he was not opposed to alliances, having voted for two of them, although not the 2M collaboration of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC.

But the big four alliances - 2M, G6, Ocean Three and CKYHE - will control 95 per cent of the international maritime container trades, he noted.

Source : HKSG.

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