No Fixing

April 21, 2008 9LBO) A European Union directive to abolish shipping line ‘conferences’ or cartels by October should lead to more competition and enable shippers to get a better deal, Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council officials said. SLSC president Ananda Wijayasuriya said lines will in future not be able to fix prices but negotiate contracts of carriage with individual shippers based on competition.

“We could look forward to it benefiting shippers and ultimately consumers the whole aim of the EU decision.”

The benefits of the move will go mainly to CIF (cost, insurance, freight) exporters of commodities like tea, rubber and coconut fibre but not garment exporters where freight is paid by the buyer.

The EU decision to repeal antitrust immunity given to liner conferences means the end of the London-based India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ceylon (IPBC) Conference, a group of 19 shipping lines which carry over 70 percent of container cargo between Europe and the Indian subcontinent.

Conferences are groups of shipping lines that agree on freight rates and other charges irrespective of market conditions, and offer scheduled sailings between designated ports.

Shipping lines had defended the practice saying it allow