Container shipping companies are celebrating news that they will continue to be exempt from antitrust rules against anti-competitive agreements for a further four years until 2024, EU antitrust regulators said on Tuesday.
First adopted in 2009 and extended for five years in 2014, the consortia block exemption regulation will be prolonged for four more years to April 2024, the European Commission said in a statement yesterday.
The ruling allows liner operators with a combined market share below 30% to cooperate to provide joint liner shipping services. The extension had been the subject of fierce debate over the past year.
“The consortia block exemption regulation results in efficiencies for carriers that can better use vessels’ capacity and offer more connections,” the EU watchdog said.
“Vessel sharing is the backbone of the global liner shipping network, and we should not underestimate the value of this tool for smaller carriers and lower volume trade lanes where demand might not otherwise support as many competitors,” said John Butler, CEO of liner lobby group, the World Shipping Council.
“The decision is very important because it will also influence the position taken by other competition authorities around the world as and when they periodically review the application of their own competition rules to international liner shipping” said International Chamber of Shipping deputy secretary general, Simon Bennett.