Cartel Curbs

Sept 18, 2007 (LBO) – India’s Competition Commission is moving against an alliance of shipping lines which control most of the cargo shipped from south Asia, including Sri Lanka, to Europe but which shippers have accused of acting like a cartel. The India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Ceylon Conference (IPBCC), one of the oldest shipping conferences in the world, controls about 75 per cent of the traffic between India and Europe, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said.

Shipping lines operate in groups called conferences.

In a letter to the Shipping Ministry, the CCI pointed out that the IPBCC fixes freight rates and other charges like terminal handling charge (THC), bunker adjustment factor (BAF), and currency adjustment factor (CAF), which is followed by its members, and also becomes a standard for non-members.

The Competition Commission has asked India’s Shipping Ministry to take steps to curb such practices to safeguard the interests of Indian exporters.

The move has been welcomed by Sri Lankan shippers who have long complained of price fixing by shipping lines operating through Colombo, a charge the lines have denied.

Sri Lankan shippers said they were checking on the reports of Indian action and that they would be pl