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Singapore extends antitrust exemptions for shipping lines

Singapore extends antitrust exemptions for shipping lines
The Singapore government has decided to extend an exemption for container lines from competition laws for another five years up to end-2020.

The Competition (Block Exemption for Liner Shipping Agreements) Order, or BEO, exempts container carriers and operators from prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements in Singapore, allowing two or more carrier operators to jointly provide services in the areas of technical, operational or commercial arrangements and setting freight rates.

The BEO, first issued in July 2006, was extended for five years in 2010 and is due to expire on 31 December 2015. Singapore’s ministry for trade and industry has granted a further five-year extension to 31 December 2020.

“The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) notes that transhipment makes up a very large proportion of Singapore container volumes, and has assessed that the high degree of connectivity and availability of liner shipping services in Singapore benefits Singapore’s importers and exporters beyond what might ordinarily be expected if the port depended only on exports and imports,” the ministry stated.

“It is internationally recognised that liner shipping agreements, which facilitate the sharing of vessels among liners, enable more frequent services and cost savings for liners. They may also enable a group of smaller liners to provide services that compete with larger liners. Antitrust exemptions for liner service agreements generally remain the regulatory norm worldwide,” it added.

In May this year, the CCS had called for public feedback on the extension.