While the three partners in the world's largest container collaboration, Maersk Line, MSC, and CMA CGM, are patiently waiting for a "Go" or "No go" for the P3 alliance, the Chairman of the US maritime authority, Mario Cordero, points out that the entire industry is currently facing a consolidation.
Cordero, who heads the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), stresses in an interview with ShippingWatch that the discussions currently taking place among officials are happening "behind closed doors and with an open mind." But as for the general trend in the container industry right now he says the following:
”Clearly, it appears the industry is moving towards an alliance model, it is something we look at.”
The statement comes in relation to the G6 alliance, which - likely as direct response to P3 - plans to strengthen its United States routes noticeably, and has thus initiated a process with the FMC to secure US approval. Asked directly, Cordero stresses that the two approvals are independent of each other and not formally related:
“The reviews of P3 and G6 are totally independent.”
Right now the ball is very much in the three P3 carriers' court, as they have to respond to a series of questions put forth by the authorities. The summit, which was historical due to the fact that it marked the first time the maritime authorities of China, the EU, and the United States held a meeting at such a high level, was generally productive, says Cordero. Already before Christmas he hinted that the summit could become an annual event, as it provided all parties with new insight into how the respective systems operate within transport.
"It was a valuable meeting where we had a good dialog about cross board container transport in the world today. This led to a very good understanding of how the systems work in the various parts of the world, and it could be the beginning of an annual dialog, though we're not committing to anything yet at this point," Cordero told ShippingWatch just ahead of Christmas.
In addition to Hapag Lloyd, the G6 alliance consists of APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Mitsui, NYK Line, and OOCL. According to numbers from Alphaliner the alliance has approx. 18 percent of the global capacity on the container market, around half as much as the P3 alliance.
But according to SeaIntel an expanded cooperation among the six carriers, possibly including Israeli Zim, could give G6 the biggest market share on the routes between Asia and the US West Coast and between Northern Europe and the US East Coast. Furthermore, Hapag-Lloyd is currently in the midst of merger talks with Chilean CSAV.
Maersk Line still expects that the alliance will be approved, with a scheduled launch late in the 2nd quarter this year.