China Fines Shipping Companies & Joins US & EU Antitrust Cooperation
China is going after container shipping lines for freight rate abuses and wants help from the U.S. and Europe.
Antitrust is the big keyword in this story (yes, I realize I haven’t used the word yet).
With the trend of carriers joining forces in the form of alliances to increase profit margins through operational cooperation, many in the international shipping industry have worried about the decrease of competition.
It is not as though there are no grounds for worry. While the alliances formed by the major container shipping lines or carriers are supposed to be strictly on an operational level and not cooperative in terms of advertising or price setting, there has been a high amount of price fixing that has caught the attention of antitrust agencies recently.
In fact, the FBI has been cracking down on price fixing, investigating major international shipping companies.
We first posted a blog on international shipping price fixing investigations back in 2013 with:
Then back in October of 2014, we blogged about Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) pleading guilty to price fixing with:
Next, we shared with our readers in February of 2015 that K-Line Executive Hiroshige Tanioka pleaded guilty for his involvement in a price fixing conspiracy in the blog:
It didn’t take long for us to announce a third shipping executive who pleaded guilty to price fixing. March of 2015 brought an announcement from the FBI that an executive from Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) pleaded guilty and we shared it in our blog:
The list of offenders includes some names well known in the world of logistics including Chinese and Taiwanese container carriers.
China initiated its investigation into the anti-competitive practices on the Sino-Japan trade in July 2014 and, in announcing the list of companies that have been penalised, the Ministry of Transport urged the international shipping community to keep the market fair, in order to ensure a stable and healthy development.
After imposing all these fines, China met with U.S. and European maritime regulators about closer antitrust cooperation in light of the closer cooperation between shipping companies with all their alliances.