World Shipping Council Responds to Maritime Antitrust Enforcement Act: Why? Ship’s crew

The World Shipping Council (WSC) has spoken out against the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act that has been introduced this week by U.S. Representatives Jim Costa (CA-21), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), John Garamendi (CA-08), Josh Harder (CA-09), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19).

The proposed legislation aims to remove the exemption for foreign shipping lines from federal antitrust laws and address unfair practices affecting American businesses and consumers.

According to a US Department of Transportation report, the top 10 foreign-based shipping companies operating foreign-flagged vessels control over 80% of the shipping market. The new law would apply antitrust laws to these airlines and allow the US to crack down on unfair trade practices such as unjustified fare increases, excessive fees and unexplained schedule changes.

US Maritime Antitrust Enforcement Act Targets Container Ships

However, the WSC, which represents liner shipping companies, argues that the Shipping Act provides legal certainty for shipping companies to share space on ships, ensuring competitive markets and efficient services. WSC President and CEO John Butler says VSAs (Vessel Sharing Arrangements) benefit the supply chain and eliminating such a system would undermine competition and choice in liner shipping services.

“No one has provided a reason why we should throw away a tool as useful as ship sharing agreements and I think some of the rhetoric stems from a misunderstanding of how VSAs help the supply chain work better” says Butler.

VSAs are operational agreements between shipping companies that allow them to share space on each other’s ships. According to the WSC, this allows more shippers to provide more services to more ports more efficiently than shippers could provide individually, resulting in benefits for shippers, ports, consumers and supply chain workers.

The WSC argues that liner shipping is already a highly competitive market. In its Fact Funding 29 Report last May, the independent Federal Maritime Commission found that “individual shipping companies within each alliance continue to compete independently and vigorously in pricing and marketing” and that “(d) the transpacific is a highly competitive market. ”

Butler emphasizes that VSAs are purely operational agreements that allow carriers to minimize transportation costs while offering more frequent sailings and serving more ports. Carriers within a VSA compete with each other and those outside the VSA to sell their services.

The WSC is keen to work with the sponsors of the bill to better understand their policy goals and eliminate misconceptions about VSAs.

“We look forward to working with the sponsors of the bill to better understand their policy goals. A similar bill was introduced in the last Congress but did not receive significant support,” Butler said.

You can read the WSC’s full response to HR 1696, the Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act. Here.

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