The Hong Kong Shippers Council says it welcomes the territory’s Competition Commission's decision to grant a block exemption to voluntary discussion agreements (VDAs) among container lines.

As expected, Hong Kong's Competition Commission on Tuesday issued a block exemption order (BEO) for vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) between liner shipping companies.

Despite hoping for the best, the realignment in the container shipping industry in the last few months and the resulting intense competition has resulted in Westports Holdings' volumes falling 3% to 3.95m teu from January to May, the port operator said in a stock market announcement.

The formation of new container shipping alliances and their new mix of vessel sharing agreements could have either positive or negative impact on the number of vessel transits through the Panama Canal, though signs are pointing more toward the positive, according to Jorge Quijano, ceo of Panama Canal Authority.

With one eye on industry shifts due to the changes in the key liner alliances, Malaysian port operator Westports Holdings is forecasting conservative container growth of between 1% and 5% this year, local media quoted ceo Ruben Emir Gnanalingam as saying.

Israel’s Zim Line has started to unveil a major restructuring of its network on the mainline trades reflecting its independent nature outside of the major alliances.

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) says it is still in talks to join the 2M alliance following a report that it had failed to join the grouping.

The European Shippers’ Council (ESG) and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) have joined forces to raise concerns over the impacts of new container shipping ‘alliances’ and their increasing use of 18,000 teu mega-ships.

Malaysian port operator Westports Holdings continued to do well in the third quarter with net profit rising 9% to MYR151.0m ($35.5m) from MYR138.5m previously on a 18% rise in revenue to MYR474.4m, it said in a stock market announcement.

As the container shipping industry goes through “generational changes” US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) chairman Mario Cordero says shippers will have to accept that “rates will rise at some point”.

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