The P3 alliance between the world's three largest container carriers, Maersk Line, MSC, and CMA CGM, could be in violation of the EU's competition law, says the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), and the organization has thus reported the alliance to the EU Commission's competition authority.
"The GSF has made a formal legal submission to the European Commission on behalf of shippers from all over the world. The major fear is the market impact that the P3 Agreement would have. If the P3 were to proceed in its current form the structure of container shipping markets serving EU and global trades would be fundamentally changed, including the possibility of eliminating effective competition,” GSF Secretary General Chris Welsh says in a press release.
Global Shippers Forum represents thousands of shippers worldwide, including companies such as Walmart and Tesco.
According to the GSF, the scope of the P3 alliance is so extensive that it could result in illegal arrangements concerning prices and capacity.
At the organization's third annual meeting in Los Angeles, the GSF once again appealed to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the EU Commission's Competition Authority to introduce so-called "appropriate steps" to ensure that the P3 alliance does not distort competition.
"GSF has told Vice-President Almunia, that in view of the lack of competition law enforcement in the container shipping sector in other parts of the world, industry is dependent on the Directorate General to enforce EU competition law for the benefit not only of EU trade but also that of its trading partners in the world’s main markets,” says Chris Welsh.
“Shippers are rightly concerned that the carriers in the P3 will be able to eliminate effective competition in key European markets, including Europe/Far East and the transatlantic."
Commissioner of the US Federal Maritime Commission, William Boyle, was also present at the meeting, where he - according to the GSF - expressed his understanding of the concerns voiced by the shippers.
According to Lloyd's List, the result of the US Federal Maritime Commission's review of the P3 alliance are expected ready this Friday.
But even if the P3 alliance is approved in the United States, the Chinese maritime authority still has to green-light the the alliance before the three carriers can launch their fleet collaboration later this year.
The competing G6 alliance is also awaiting approval from the FMC.