MOL defends decision to quit ELAA and TSA
MITSUI OSK Lines is standing by its decision to resign from two leading container shipping trade associations last year on the grounds that membership could have landed the Japanese company in trouble with competition regulators.
Although most of the world"s global carriers belong to the European Liner Affairs Association, the three Japanese lines all quit, and MOL went a step further and also pulled out of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement.
The ELAA is now being wound up and absorbed into the World Shipping Council, while its Container Trade Statistics subsidiary will be spun off as a separate entity that will continue to publish cargo volumes and price indices based on information submitted by its members.
However, MOL told Lloyd"s List it had no plans to reverse its position and provide data to CTS, even after the ELAA has closed down. The European Commission issued strict guidelines about the conditions under which the ELAA could compile aggregated trade statistics following abolition of their antitrust immunity and the end of the conference system in Europe 18 months ago.
Nevertheless, MOL reiterated that it had left the Brussels-headquartered association to avoid the risk of infringing the EU"s new competition rules.
Removal the lines" block exemption from antitrust rules had made it extremely difficult to align MOL"s global business processes, now that its regional divisions have to operate according to different standards, the company said.
MOL added that its decision to leave the TSA was influenced by the EU regulations.
?TSA is not directly related to the EU"s competition rules. But our working-level officials are often involved in both the North America and Europe trades. Therefore there is the danger that their demarcation cannot be cleared,? the company said in a written response to questions.
Container lines still enjoy limited antitrust immunity in the US which enables discussion agreements such as the TSA to continue, with Washington showing no inclination to follow Brussels with a far more radical shake-up of competition rules covering liner shipping.
However, some competition lawyers have expressed the view that membership of the TSA, which represents lines operating in the transpacific trades, could create legal problems since member lines also serve the European trades where discussion agreements are prohibited.