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Indiaexportnews.com

Competition law becomes effective on October 18

  10.09.2008    

Liner shipping in trades to and from European Union countries will become fully subject to European Commission (EC) competition law from October 18 when the repeal of regulation 4056/86 – thus far granting liner shipping conferences wide-ranging antitrust immunity – becomes effective, Transport Intelligence reported. Ahead of that change, the European Liner Affairs Association (ELAA), which currently represents 23 container shipping lines, has issued a "clarification" of what it maintains will and will not be legal practise after that date. That clarification assesses the legality of the industries' main operational practices before and
after October 18 – thus comparing legality under the conference system and EC competition law. The ELAA pointed out that to help liner shipping carriers assess the compatibility of their practices with EC
competition law, the commission had previously issued guidelines on the application of Article 81 EC Treaty to maritime transport services, known more widely as the 'MTS Guidelines'. "The significance
of this guidance must not be underestimated for post-conference self-assessment of the liner shipping carriers, as it takes into account the specifics of the liner shipping industry and gives a straight forward direction on what can and cannot be done post-conference," stated the ELAA. Speaking at an industry conference
in Singapore earlier this month, ELAA executive director Chris Bourne commented: "Conference tariffs and conference set surcharges such as CAF, BAF and THC will be forbidden. The same applies for conference
business plans and the exchange of confidential information on market shares, volumes or prices between lines." Bourne also said that: "The lines have understood that they have to take independent pricing
policies on freight rates, surcharges and ancillary charges including rebates, etc, which will have to be individually negotiated with the customers without any contact with competitors whatsoever. The cost
structure of charges is thus up to each individual line." Bourne pointed out that the MTS Guidelines additionally gave guidance on the activities of the ELAA as a trade association, particularly in respect
to information exchange and trade association meetings.



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