Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has hit out at the $600,000 lawsuit filed with the United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) back in August, 2021, against the world’s largest container line and COSCO.

MSC dismissed the claims by Pennsylvania-based furniture shipper MCS Industries, that the carriers have periodically contravened the terms of the U.S. Shipping Act, and have ‘unjustly and unreasonably’ exploited their customers by colluding to manipulate the container shipping market.

While COSCO reached a private settlement with MCS, the Swiss-Italian shipping giant MSC rubbished the claims, calling them ‘baseless’.

A spokesperson for MSC told yesterday, “We believe that the difficulties MCS Industries experienced with its 2021 cargo bookings under its service contract with MSC arose from errors and communication issues between MCS Industries and third-party intermediaries, and not from any wrongdoing by MSC.”

Officials from MSC suggest that had if the liner had come across errors by MSC in fulfilling the contract, the company would have settled the matter by now, as it has been five months since the complaint was filed. They added that MCS has failed to provide any information which proves that MSC has breached its service contract, while the allegations of the liners colluding together was already withdrawn.

For the past 18 months, liners have been carefully looked upon by antitrust authorities around the world, inspecting the nature of global shipping alliances, to find out if they are exerting greater than usual control on the main trade lanes.

The government of the United Kingdom was called on by the British International Freight Association to investigate ‘distorted market conditions’ in the container shipping sector around the world.

It was just yesterday, that authorities in South Korea slapped $81 million fines on 23 container shipping companies including HMM, COSCO, Evergreen, OOCL, SM Line, Heung-A, Korea Marine Transport Co. and Wan Hai, on grounds that the container lines had been colluding together to keep rates high on certain intra-Asian trade lanes for the past 15 years.

In September, regulators from the United States, European Union and China met together, claiming that they do not find any evidences of anti-competitive behavior in the container shipping sector.

Back in December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the controversial Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2021 (OCRA 2021), which is aimed at empowering the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to act on what it sees as anti-competitive behavior by container shipping lines and resulting impact on U.S. importers, exporters and retailers. It would require lines to meet minimum service standards.

2021 witnessed the majority of container lines around the world recording their greatest ever profit figures, at a time when the world is grappled by port congestions and schedule reliability has hit a record low in the industry’s history. If early indications are to be accounted for, 2022 is on the course to surpass last year’s record earning spree for container liners.

Source : marinemonks