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            october 23, 2019

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Maersk denies anti-competitive behaviour at Indian terminals


AP Moller-Maersk has dismissed allegations that its shipping and port units have been putting pressure on shippers in western India to use Gujarat Pipavav Port (GPPL), which is part-owned by its subsidiary, APM Terminals.
"After looking into shippers' accusations of anti-competitive behaviour, we have determined our position to be legally sound," said a spokesman for APM Terminals, according to London's International Freighting Weekly.
It had earlier reported that Indian shippers had accused the group's container shipping divisions, Safmarine and Maersk Line, of only providing services in Gujarat state via GPPL facilities through a two-year exclusivity deal valid until March 31, 2012.
The APM spokesman would not confirm or deny the existence of the deal, "Indian shippers are free to choose any line or port for service," he said.
"In Pipavav, APM Terminals has less than a seven per cent share of India's north-western market, which cannot be interpreted as an anti-competitive position.
"Feeder operators and shipping lines find Pipavav closer to the Mumbai market than the port of Mundra, so there is a business reason for the attractiveness of Pipavav," he was quoted as saying.
Despite this, Indian shippers are reported to be planning to follow up their claims with local and national regulators.
The Western India Shippers Association (WISA) is to seek clarification from Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the licensing authority for non-major ports in Gujarat, about the legality of the alleged exclusivity deal.
The GMB will also be asked to investigate whether one regional feeder line was pressured to switch port calls from Mundra to GPPL in return for a window facility at another Indian terminal, also operated by APM Terminals.
In addition, WISA said it would ask India's Union Ministry of Shipping, which oversees port privatisation, if it can take any action over the trade distortion claims, the report said.
"It may also become essential to prevail at the central cabinet level to ensure that the government expedites enactment of the Shipping Trade Practices Act, which could assure the shippers a statutory forum to get redress in such cases," WISA secretary SRL Narasimhan said.

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