HAVE YOUR SAY - Shipping competition reform

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


As outlined in the morning's Weekly Report, the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) is the designated peak shipper body as defined in the Consumer & Competition Act 2010 with Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) administering the Part X compliance in a contracted Secretariat role to the association and reporting to its Committee of Management.
This is an important regulatory function performed by APSA and FTA as we are totally reliant on foreign owned international shipping lines to continue servicing Australian trade and therefore there is no questioning that they must be incentivised to do so on a profitable basis. APSA and FTA are calling for regulatory reform to: 1) ensure vessel sharing consortia can continue with qualified exemption from normal competition law administered in Australian commerce; and 2) monitor the appropriateness of shipping line (and contracted stevedore / empty container park) surcharges, fees and penalties.
APSA and FTA met last week with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) stating that the events over the last 12 months have re-affirmed our position that Part X of the Consumer & Competition Act 2010  does not adequately protect the interests of Australian exporters and importers and to that end, we see merit in a replacement block exemption regime. Please refer to our submission including 9 recommendations - available HERE.

APSA and FTA also perform an active role in global developments in terms of shipping competition regulation with board representation on the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and as a member on the Container Shipping Market Review Panel. This exposure provides APSA and FTA with international key learnings for application into our domestic advocacy activity.
In this capacity, I will be joining the GSF Secretary General and fellow Board Members in an exclusive engagement this Friday 19 March 2021 with the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS).
The CCS is reviewing the Competition (Block Exemption for Liner Shipping Agreements) Order (BEO) which will expire on 31 December 2021. Under the BEO, shipping lines can enter into vessel sharing agreements (involving sharing of vessel capacity) and price discussion agreements (relating to freight rates and/or surcharges) with one other, subject to specified conditions. As a user/buyer of the shipping line services in Singapore, the outcomes of this review will have direct impact on Australian trade and may also influence final outcomes considered by the ACCC.

The CCCS has extended an invitation to APSA and FTA members to provide your views on the BEO using this link. The CCS has given assurances that your responses to this survey will be kept confidential (responses are required by 26 March 2021).
In parallel to the completion of this survey, it would be greatly appreciated if you could provide your feedback / views direct to me at pzalai@FTAlliance.com.au or 02 9975 1878 to support our ongoing engagement with the ACCC and in preparation for the Singaporean competition regulator meeting this Friday.
Paul Zalai -  Director FTA / Secretariat APSA / Director GSF