EC asks for opinions on ELAA’s information exchange system
The European Commission has requested feedback on the potential effects on competition in the container shipping market of an information exchange system, such as the model put forward by the European Liner Affairs Association to replace liner conferences.
The EC has already published a staff paper in which it said it was “concerned that exchanges of information could lead in practice to a coordination of prices and other trading conditions between liner carriers.”
Stakeholders are invited to submit their comments by Oct. 31. The comments will be used to form EC guidelines on the applications to the maritime industry following the repeal of the block exemption in 2008.
Highlights of the ELAA’s proposal are:
* “The establishment of a port-to-port aggregated volume database, based on figures supplied by the carriers to an independent data service.”
* “Provision for an industry supply and demand forecast produced with the help of an independent expert.”
* “Acknowledgement of the need to improve industry-wide consultation; this would be organized by a Liner Shipping Association. This system will include carrier discussions as well as consultations with other industry stakeholders. The objective is to improve our collective understanding of the trends in our business. We must also consider the requirements of our customers as represented by shippers’ organizations.”
* “Establishment of a simple aggregated price index by trade direction.”
* “Publication of information from the public domain, which will increase the transparency of our costs such as bunkering, canal dues, port charges and currency exchange rate exposure.”
* “The absolute necessity for all the information generated being made available to the general public and the benefit of all industry stakeholders, carriers, shippers, freight forwarders, port authorities, governments and others.”
“The commission has acknowledged that exchanges of information leading to greater market transparency may help improve the provision of liner services, in the interest of carriers, transport users and the public in general. To be acceptable, however, any new system for information exchange must respect the competition rules,” the EC said.
“Some elements of the current ELAA proposal appear to be in line with that requirement. Others are problematic, notably because they do not differ in effect from what liner conferences have been doing. Accepting the revised ELAA proposal in its current form would appear to remove all of the pro-competitive effects of the abolition of the liner conference system.”
All relevant documentation on the review of competition rules to the maritime transport sector is available at