Shippers and liners oppose plan to prevent US ocean carrier VSAs
Shippers and shipping lines joined forces today to oppose the US Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement ...
The UK government could set up its own Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER) for shipping when it revokes all EU laws.
Jacob Reees-Mogg, secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, has proposed a Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which aims to scrap all existing EU law retained in the UK, including the CBER, which the European Commission is currently reviewing.
A consultation paper by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), released on 19 January, is asking for industry views on a UK shipping line alliance regulation, a consultation process due to end on 23 February.
It says: “The CMA’s proposed recommendation to the secretary of state is to replace the CBER, when it expires on 25 April 2024, with a Liner Shipping Consortia Block Exemption Order (CBEO) tailored to the needs of businesses operating in the UK and UK consumers.”
The CMA added it recommended a similar version of the existing CBER, in order to ensure the continuity of container shipping for UK businesses.
It said: “Certain stakeholders have proposed that, without an internationally consistent approach (particularly if the retained CBER was allowed to expire without replacement), liners may be deterred from making direct calls to UK ports in favour of serving the UK by way of transhipment to and from European ports.”
And the CMA is concerned that shipping costs for UK consumers could rise considerably without a regulation aligned to the substantially larger market on the European mainland.
According to the CMA, the total capacity using UK ports was 412,830 teu in September of last year, with 70% of that capacity operating under consortia agreements.
Freight forwarder’s association Clecat, however, said it was disappointed the CMA had proposed keeping provisions of the EU’s CBER for the UK.
Director general Nicolette van der Jagt told The Loadstar: “The need for consistency with Europe, for fear that vessels cease to call at UK ports, is noted. This is something I can understand from the UK perspective, and there are ongoing uncertainties as long as the EU has not made up its mind.”
Moreover, Ms van der Jagt said she was unimpressed with the CMA’s view that block exemptions allow officials to “regulate and forget”, with the CMA arguing that it “does not need to spend time scrutinising what are essentially benign agreements”.
Clecat has made its opinions known to both the CMA and EC. They are:
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