Shipper groups praised the Federal Maritime Commission for close examination of the P3 Network that Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM plan to set up later this year, as well as its plan to monitor the vessel-sharing agreement to determine whether it harms competition.
The FMC voted last week not to try to block the vessel-sharing agreement.
Bruce Carlton, the president of the National Industrial Transportation League, said in a statement Friday, "The proposed P3 vessel-sharing agreement among the world’s three largest carriers is considerably larger than any previous VSA in terms of prospective market share. As such, it has riveted the attention of shippers everywhere. Most shippers have benefitted from VSAs. However, their concerns about the P3, and ours, have been whether there will be adverse effects on competition flowing from this new massive arrangement. The FMC’s decision reflects thoughtful balance and fairness for all: the three carriers can go forward as planned, and the agency has signaled they will closely monitor its implementation. The League is very pleased with this outcome."
The Global Shippers Forum Secretary General Chris Welsh said his group also welcomed the plan for monitoring of the P3 and "new reporting requirements” to "ensure that the FMC can act quickly in the event of abuses or
unreasonable increases in transportation rates and costs or reductions
in transportation services."
“The GSF is
similarly hopeful that the European competition authorities will fully
examine the P3 under the EU competition guidelines and make appropriate
changes to the P3 as required by EU law," Welsh said.
Meanwhile, press reports indicate some opposition to the P3 in Korea.
The website Business Korea
said the Korean Shipowners Association submitted a petition to Korea's Fair Trade Commission on March 3, "claiming that the P3 Network corresponds to an M&A for restricting competition," and that the Chinese Shipowners Association has claimed the network could have a negative impact on the international shipping market.
The shipping magazine Fairplay
reported that "South Korea’s antitrust regulator said on Monday that it will join forces with its counterparts in China and other countries to ensure fair treatment for smaller players ahead of a mega alliance of the world’s top three container carriers."
FMC Commissioner William Doyle said last week that "it appears that the P3 Agreement is not likely, through a
reduction in competition, to result in an unreasonable increase in
transportation service or an unreasonable increase in transportation
But, he said the P3 monitoring program is "intended to provide an early warning system to detect capacity issues and market problems."
He said FMC’s monitoring activities will include:
- Regular communication between Commission staff and the Network Center to discuss operations, schedules, processes and business rules.
- Submission of certain actions by P3 members ensuring independence of individual lines’ and autonomy of the Network Center.
- Ensuring adherence to the agreement and autonomy of the Network Center irrespective of individual carrier interests.
- Advance notification of cancelled sailings and any service modification resulting in changes in average weekly capacity.
- Monitoring of rates in connection with actions altering capacity.
- Monitoring of activities in connection with third parties that might demonstrate prohibited acts or other behavior that might threaten competition.