WELSH: ESC WINNING LEGAL ARGUMENT ON ANTITRUST IMMUNITY
The European Shippers’ Council is winning the legal argument on the need to end the antitrust immunity of liner shipping conferences, said Chris Welsh, secretary general of the Brussels-based shippers’ body.
Welsh reiterated his council’s objection to “the arcane and protectionist liner shipping industry” and its antitrust protection in a speech at the Economist Shipping Conference in Athens.
“Shipping lines and shipowners have been protected from competition whilst their customers — shippers — have been ignored,” he said.
Welsh said a move to a free market would benefit everybody, and not just shippers.
“Recent examples in the roll-on/roll-off and short sea shipping sectors have shown that liberalization benefits (shipping) lines, too,” he said.
“The evidence is now clearly stacked against the shipping lines and the antiquated laws that shield them,” he said. “ESC has long campaigned for change and we are winning the legal argument, but the shipping lines themselves must change their ‘mind-set’ and start putting their customers first rather than relying on protection from competition,” he added.
The ESC has called for an end to the antitrust immunity of liner conferences since 1995.