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Japan to review liner shipping pricing laws

Tokyo: The Japanese Transport Ministry has declared plans to review the pricing system for shipping lines; a move that is likely to have grave consequences for shipping groups currently exempt from anti-monopoly regulation.

The controversial reassessment is a consequence of the recent European Union directive to revoke exemptions for "shipping line conferences" o where shipping companies band together and set common rates for scheduled services. The exemptions were initially put in to play so that shipping lines could offer customers stable market rates that were free of radical price swings. However, as most major players in the market offer concessions to their long term customers, this system is now believed to be out dated.

Although Japanese shipping giants K Line, Nippon Yusen and Mitsui OSK all oppose the move to revoke the expemption, the new regulations are expected to have minimal impact on services to Asia as key markets such as China and Singapore remian free of anti-monopoly regulation.  [07/12/06]

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