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Hong Kong extends liner shipping block exemption

Photo: Dan Freeman - Unsplash Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong’s Competition Commission has renewed a block exemption for vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) between liner shipping companies for another four years.

The Competition Commission said that the terms of the block exemption set out in 2017 would now remain in place until 8 August 2026.

The original order had been due to expire on 8 August this year and over the last year the commission has conducted review of the block exemption.

“The Commission has come to the conclusion that the relevant activities of the VSAs continue to meet the requirements of the efficiency exclusion,” the Commission said.

While the original order lasted for five years an extension has only been granted for four years. “This is in light of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the prevailing market conditions which warrants a review of the Order within a shorter time frame,” the Commission said.

Record rises in container freight rates and delays to shipments have placed the liner shipping industry under scrutiny with accusations from shippers of excess profiteering and monopolistic actions by the sector.

The Hong Kong Competition Commission will commence its next review of the order in three years time.