Maersk and MSC say they plan to initially operate 97 ships ranging in size from 4,000 TEU to 13,000 TEU in the 2M vessel sharing agreement on trades to and from the U.S., but may eventually operate up to 130 ships with capacities up to 19,200 TEU.
The two companies provided some details the Maersk/MSC Vessel Sharing Agreement filed with the FMC on Wednesday.
The companies did not spell out what routes they will operate on other than to say that they could encompass a vast swath of geography.
“The geographic scope of the agreement shall extend to the trades between (a) ports in Northern Europe (North Cape, Norway to Europa Point (Gibraltar) range) and the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, and Malta) on the one hand, and ports on the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Coasts, and ports in Mexico and the Bahamas on the other hand; and (b) ports in Asia (countries in the Japan to Malaysia range) and in Sri Lanka, Oman, Egypt, Morocco, and in countries bordering the Adriatic Sea, the Bahamas, Panama and Canada on the one hand and ports on the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Coasts of the United States on the other hand),” the agreement said.
They also noted, as previously announced, that the 2M will operate in the Asia-Europe trade — which is not regulated by the FMC — and about which they provided no additional information.
The agreement noted the two companies may phase in and phase out tonnage, including adding “extra loaders” when demand is heavy and skipping or sailings when demand is weak.
The carriers said they planned to terminate five space sharing agreements with they have jointly or separately with CMA CGM “at the earliest possible date consistent with their terms.”
Those agreements are the:
- CMA CGM/MSC Reciprocal Space Charter, Sailing and Cooperative Working Agreement.
- CMA CGM/MSC/Maersk Line North and Central China-U.S. Pacific Coast Two-Loop Space Charter, Sailing and Cooperative Working Agreement.
- MAERSK LINE CMA CGM Transatlantic Slot Exchange Agreement.
- MAERSK LINE/CMA CGM TP5 Space Charter Agreement.
- MSC/CMA CGM North West European Continent – U.S. East Coast Service Space Charter Agreement.
An attempt to create the P3, a three-way global alliance that included Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM, was rejected by Chinese authorities earlier this year.
The new 2M agreement does allow MSC and Maersk to buy and sell slots on containerships to one another on an ad-hoc basis, or if the other line does not wish to buy them, to sell them to another carrier, subject to regulatory requirements.
But the agreement places restrictions on the dealings of MSC and Maersk with third parties on the routes covered by the 2M VSA. The agreement filed with the FMC said: “No party may enter into any arrangement with a third-party vessel operating common carrier after the actual commencement of the services under this agreement for the acquisition, disposal or sharing of slots in the trade other than where it is expressly permitted to do so by this agreement.”
The new 2M agreement allows the two carriers to discuss and agree upon the terminals to be called by the vessels and the volume of cargo to be handled by such terminals. But it adds that MSC and Maersk “shall negotiate independently with, and enter into separate individual contracts with, marine terminal operators, stevedores, tug operators, other providers or suppliers of other vessel-related goods and services and/or inland carriers in the United States” and that each line will “retain its separate identity and shall have fully separate and independent sales, pricing and marketing functions.”
The two companies envision a long term partnership. The FMC filing said the agreement will continue for a minimum of 10 years, though either side can terminate if the other company becomes insolvent or experiences a change in control.