The shipping line says the move is in line with a decision to quit other voluntary discussion agreements in 2017.
Maersk Line is withdrawing from two additional voluntary discussion agreements with other ocean carriers.
Filings with the Federal Maritime Commission say that Maersk Line has left the Trans-Atlantic American Flag Liner Operators Agreement that authorized its members “to discuss and agree on rates for the transportation of household goods, personal effects and unaccompanied baggage originating with U.S. government agencies and moving through government bills of lading.” Maersk’s U.S.-flag subsidiary is Maersk Line Ltd. Remaining in the agreement are the U.S.-flag units of American President Lines, Hapag-Lloyd and American Roll-On Roll Off Carrier.
Maersk also is leaving the Trans-Pacific American Flag Berth Operators Agreement, a similar “conference that handles the ocean transportation of U.S. government household goods moving under government bills of lading or similar documents in the transpacific trades.” APL and Matson remain members of that group.
A Maersk spokesman said Maersk Line Ltd. is not planning any change in its services, but said that the move is in line with a decision Maersk made in late 2017 to withdraw from other voluntary discussion agreements (VDAs) elsewhere in the world.
“Governments have historically encouraged carriers to cooperate to achieve higher levels of efficiency and network stability,” he explained. “One mechanism for cooperation is a VDA, which is a government-sanctioned agreement among carriers allowing for the exchange of information and discussions in relation to various issues, including supply and demand, industry trends, regulatory updates and nonbinding pricing guidelines. Many countries have competition law protection for VDAs.”
Maersk in December 2017 decided to withdraw from a number of VDAs, including the now-defunct Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, saying it was doing so “in light of the commitments provided by Maersk Line in the context of its acquisition of Hamburg Süd and the recent changes to the regulatory landscape in Hong Kong and New Zealand.”
Hong Kong’s competition commission, for example, issued a block exemption order for vessel sharing agreements in the liner shipping industry, but declined to issue a block exemption order for vessel discussion agreements.
The Maersk spokesman said the decision to leave the two U.S.-flag agreements should be viewed in the same context of the company decision to leave VDAs in other countries.