AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION RECOMMENDS REMOVING CARRIERS’ EXEMPTION TO COMPETITION RULES
Earlier this month, the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission released a draft report examining the performance of Australia's maritime logistics system. The Commission investigated the productivity, efficiency and dependability of Australia’s ports and container depts and of the liner shipping services serving the country.
Amongst the many recommendations for reform and improvement, the Productivity Commission analysed the competition framework shipping lines serving Australia are performing, noting that Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 does not require shipping lines to show that their arrangements (vessel-sharing agreements) provide a net public benefit to Australia, which is a requirement faced by similar industries. Therefore, the Productivity Commission recommends repealing Part X and that shipping lines should be required to show that their agreements provide a net public benefit before exemption is granted from the relevant competition laws. This would ensure that any anticompetitive avenues for price cooperation are only available to shipping lines when the cost of reduced competition is outweighed by other public benefits.
CLECAT welcomes the recommendation of the Australia’s Productivity Commission on repealing exemptions from competition rules for shipping lines. In the framework of the evaluation of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation, we therefore call on the European Commission to take the recommendations of Australia’s Productivity Commission into consideration, especially noting that shipping lines should demonstrate that a fair share of the benefits resulting from consortia is passed on to customers and outweighs the costs of reduced competition.
Interested parties are invited to send comments to the draft report via this link until 14 October 2022. The final report is expected to be handed to the Australian Government by end December 2022.