The US Federal Maritime Commission has voted to ask for additional information from the parties to the proposed P3 Alliance.
The move means that a new 45 day regulatory review period will now begin – delaying the introduction of the alliance agreement.
The three shipping lines that make up the proposed P3 Network Vessel Sharing Agreement are Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM.
The US move has been welcomed by the Global Shippers’ Forum which pointed out that the agreement was poised to go into effect on Sunday 8th December.
Chris Welsh, GSF secretary general, said: “GSF welcomes the vote by FMC Commissioners so that they can obtain extra information following concerns raised by GSF, and welcomes the space created by a new 45 day regulatory review period starting from next week to scrutinise and thoroughly evaluate the proposed P3 Agreement.
“When shippers still lack basic information from the P3 about sailing schedules and how services will affect production and distribution, it is absolutely necessary for extra evaluation time for the carriers to respond to questions submitted by GSF regarding the competitive impact of the P3.”
The GSF is concerned that the P3 goes beyond a normal vessel sharing agreement in terms of its scale and scope and operational arrangements.
“The ‘game changing’ nature of the P3 is underlined by the response by the G6 alliance and others. We are potentially looking at a fundamental change in the structure of the global liner market and the wider competitive environment for shippers,” said Welsh.
* The P3 cooperation might bring efficiency gains and a number of other benefits to the container liner shipping market, according to the European Shippers’ Council (ESC), however the move could jeopardise the free market for freight transport.
Maersk Line, CMA-CGM, and Mediterranean Shipping Company have put forward plans to create the P3 alliance. At the same time the G6 alliance has said it will expand its cooperation to the Asia-North America West Coast and transatlantic trades.
The ESC pointed out that the alliances’ combined market share now totals 80 per cent on some trade routes.
And should P3 be deemed legal under European law, the ESC made it clear that it would look to the European Commission to take action to ensure that a market dominant position of 80 per cent of the transatlantic market would not materialise.
It said it would ensure its members were assured of all steps that were taken to safeguard the principle of a free and open market. And it promised to carry out monitoring of the P3 and G6 alliances’ consequences in the market, to collect detailed facts in the best interest of its members.