The Global Shippers’ Forum this week called on regulators in Europe and the United States to fully investigate the impact on price and service of the proposed P3 network of Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM.
The GSF, at its third annual meeting in Los Angeles, urged the regulators (including the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission) to make appropriate changes to ease competition concerns.
Speaking at the meeting, FMC Commissioner William Doyle said he recognized shippers’ anxieties and said that the issues and questions raised by the GSF had been helpful for commissioners and FMC staff in evaluating the P3. The results of the FMC’s investigations into the P3 are expected March 24, the end of the current 45-day review period.
The GSF delegates also endorsed a new legal submission to the European Commission Competition Directorate in Brussels, a submission the GSF argues could raise the potential for restrictions of competition from the P3. They include the potential risk of collusion on rates and capacity due to the wide-ranging scope of cooperation specified within the agreement, the GSF said.
The GSF argues that the P3 could “fundamentally change the structure of container shipping markets serving the European Union.”
"The major fear is the market impact that the P3 agreement would have,” said GSF Secretary General Chris Welsh. “If the P3 were to proceed in its current form, the structure of container shipping markets serving EU and global trades would be fundamentally changed, including the possibility of eliminating effective competition. Shippers are rightly concerned that the carriers in the P3 will be able to eliminate effective competition in key European markets, including Europe/Far East and the transatlantic.”
Regulatory approval is pending in the U.S., EU and China, according to Maersk officials. If approval is given, the P3 is expected to become operational in the middle of this year.