Comesa, the 21-strong group of eastern and southern African nations, has launched an investigation into potentially ‘coordinated pricing’ behaviour from Maersk, CMA CGM and United Africa Feeder Line.

The competition commission arm of the group said it had “observed that the shipping liners have issued price announcements which may be an infraction of Article 16 of the regulations. The commission has preliminary concerns that price announcements are a form of coordinated behaviour or concerted practice.”

Agreements between companies which prevent, restrict or distort competition in the African common market are banned. The commission said it was assessing the extent to which price announcements “are compatible with regulations”.

The commission has invited all interested stakeholders to submit responses by 30 April.

The decision follows a slew of authorities investigating shipping line practices over the past two years. Carriers last year made an estimated profit of some $200bn and their behaviour is being investigated by the US FMC and Department of Justice, the ‘Five Eyes’ group of English-speaking countries and South Korea, while forwarder associations, such as Clecat, have called on the European Commission to investigate too.

Anyone with comments on Comesa’s initiative is requested to contact Stellah Onyancha, manager, enforcement and exemptions.

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