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P3’s judgement day set for 24 March, GSF speaks out

P3’s judgement day set for 24 March, GSF speaks out
The results of the US Federal Maritime Commission's investigation into the proposed P3 alliance are expected on 24 March.

The Global Shippers' Forum (GSF) has urged both the US FMC and the European Commission (EC) to introduce measures to maintain fair competition, and prevent P3 using its size to influence rates or restrict shippers' options.

The "network cooperation agreement" between Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company and CMA CGM was filed in October 2013, with operations due to start in the second quarter of this year.

An international regulatory summit on P3 between Chinese, US and European regulators took place in Washington in December 2013, with the majority of the meeting behind closed doors.

A legal submission has been put forward by  GSF to the EC, raising concerns on possible rate collusion and other competition concerns born from the alliance's sheer size. P3 could "fundamentally change the structure of container shipping markets serving the European Union" said the GSF.

Unrelated to P3, Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM are all under investigation by the EC for price fixing, and possible breaches of articles relating to "anticompetitive agreements and concerted practices."

"The GSF has made a formal legal submission to the European Commission on behalf of shippers from all over the world," said GSF secretary general, Chris Welsh. "The major fear is the market impact that the P3 Agreement would have. If the P3 were to proceed in its current form the structure of container shipping markets serving EU and global trades would be fundamentally changed, including the possibility of eliminating effective competition."

GSF told vice president Almunia, that in view of the lack of competition law enforcement in the container shipping sector in other parts of the world, industry is dependent on the Directorate General to enforce EU competition law for the benefit not only of EU trade but also that of its trading partners in the world's main markets," Welsh added.

TAGS: Europe