HYDE OPENS DEBATE TODAY ON OCEAN CARRIERSÆ ANTITRUST IMMUNITY
Ocean carriers and smaller shippers will collide early today as House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., opens another round of hearings on legislation that would repeal ocean carriers' antitrust immunity.
While the familiar arguments are expected to be repeated on the issue, a new development, namely, compromise legislation, is expected to surface at today’s hearing.
Parties supporting the repeal of antitrust immunity are expected to support a new approach, which would allow ocean carriers to retain antitrust immunity so they can continue to operate in cost savings and efficiency-enhancing agreements, such as cooperative working agreements and space chartering agreements. Elimination of immunity, under the compromise, would be limited to rate-setting agreements and discussion agreement that call for voluntary rate guidelines.
In a joint statement, John P. Clancey, chairman of Maersk Inc., and Timothy J. Rhein, chairman of APL, urged Congress to retain the industry’s antitrust immunity.
“Repeal of the limited antitrust exemption would destroy the industry compromise embodied in the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, and would threaten the future of the competitive, efficient, high quality, and reasonably priced ocean transportation system that exists today in the service of U.S. importers, exporters, and the entire international trade of the United States,” the joint statement said.