ITF calls for constructive dialogue with World Shipping Council

The International Transport Forum has responded to attacks made earlier this week by liner lobby group, the World Shipping Council.

Splash reported yesterday how in the ongoing debate over whether or not the European Commission should extend container shipping’s block exemption regulation (BER) the council came out and hit the BER’s chief opponent, calling out ITF’s shipping expert Olaf Merk for being subjective and using deficient data in his arguments to get the EC to rescind the exemption.

Merk has argued that liner alliances now have too strong a market share – above the EC 30% maximum – to necessitate the special treatment they have received from Brussels.

Responding to the council’s attacks, an ITF spokesperson contacted Splash to inform readers the OECD body will be writing to the liner group in response to the criticism.

“The ITF is not an interested party in the debate about container shipping alliances. Its views are grounded in data, evidence and economic research with the objective to foster efficient transport solutions that serve citizens,” the spokesperson for ITF told Splash, adding: “ITF is open to discussing any methodological questions that the report has raised, in a constructive manner.”

The EC will announce whether or not it will extend the BER later this year having combed through many submissions from across the world. The current BER expires on April 25 next year.

Explaining last week to Splash why he has pursued the issue so doggedly, Merk said he had “a fascination with how a specific sector has managed to get and sustain a tailor-made regulatory system”.

The BER was under discussion last week at the European Shippers’ Council Maritime Day in Rotterdam where Itai Rabinovici, a European Commission officer, said that his competition division would provide the College of Commissioners with the most thorough and unbiased analysis of the current situation in maritime and lay out possible next steps.

His division is currently preparing a technical paper – a staff working document – that will be released soon.

The College of Commissioners will have to decide whether to repeal, extend, or modify the liner block exemption regulation.

ESC said it welcomes the possibility of a change in the BER. However, according to Rabinovici, any decision to change the regulation will involve a lengthy process.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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