ESC: EC antitrust guidelines don’t allow anticompetitive data exchange
The European Shippers’ Council on Tuesday said that recently released guidelines on maritime competition law in the European Commission “clearly recognize that the EC Competition Law does not permit carriers to exchange information which would allow carriers directly or indirectly to identify the competitive strategies of competitors.”
In a statement released at the Global Shippers’ Forum in Singapore, the ESC also said, “there are numerous references throughout the document that urge caution among carriers over any activities that could be construed as reducing or removing ‘the degree of certainty as to the operation of the market in question with the result that competition between undertakings is restricted.’ “
On Friday, the EC released its draft guidelines for how the liner industry would be allowed to function in a post-conference world. A repeal on an antitrust exemption for ocean carriers goes into effect in October and governs all services calling at EU ports.
Shippers’ NewsWire reported on Friday that the guidelines seemed to signal a ray of light for carriers in that some form of data exchange may be allowed after the conference ban goes into effect. Carriers have argued that the stability of rates may be affected if some data exchange is not permitted.
The ESC said it will prepare a detailed assessment of the guidelines, which are in an eight-week consultation period.
“There are obvious warnings about discussions on information among the carriers and data that would, or again could, be construed as reducing the opportunity for individual carriers to make autonomous policy over its business strategy and activities,” ESC’s statement said.