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15 August 2022 The on-line newspaper devoted to the world of transports 13:56 GMT+2

July 12, 2022

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The International Transport Forum calls for greater control over containerized shipping and proposes to charge higher taxes on the sector

It calls for a rethinking of the competition rules and complains that shipping companies in the EU only contribute for 4% at the cost of financing and maintaining maritime infrastructure

The predictability of transport delivery times containerized maritime is now a thing of the past. The highlights the report "Performance of maritime logitics" developed by the International Transport Forum (ITF), the think tank on transport policies under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) while being politically autonomous with respect to this organization. The document recalls that from 2020 this shipping sector and the activity of ports in the container segment are more times rose to the forefront of the chronicles since their Congestion has had an impact on all chains of sourcing, with companies having been hit by increases of transport prices and delays in shipments.

The report first examines the recent development of freight rates. maritime, specifying that from the beginning of 2020 the tariffs of Maritime transport of containers has increased considerably, with the noli spots that at the end of 2021 (week 47) were on average already about six times higher than two years earlier and the contracted freight rates 2.9 times higher. Especially the analysis finds that spot freight rates have begun to record a fairly gradual growth from June 2020 and therefore more rapid in the months of November and December of the same year, while between May and September 2021 there was a fluctuation that reflects the growth in tariffs for different directions of traffic. The 2.9-fold increase in contract rates between January 2020 and January 2022 mentioned by ITF is referred to to the index processed by Container Trade Statistics (CTS) which includes both contracted freight and spot freight.

ITF points out that, however, these numbers underestimate the increase in the costs of containerised maritime transport given that loaders have to cope with a series of additional burdens and higher commissions for demurrage. Also in the same period the reliability of departure times and dates of vessels decreased from 65% to 34%, which means - notes the report - that two out of three ships arrive in port with at least one day later than the scheduled time. In addition unplanned cancellations of stopovers at harbours.

Focusing on the dysfunctions of the maritime supply chain and the consequent impact on the different regional world markets, the ITF report notes that shipping companies have used hold capacity management strategies for move this capacity mainly to routes transpacifics in order to meet the growing demand for consumption in the United States. Transfer that - according to the analysis - is was facilitated by public policies, with the authorities of regulation which have enabled maritime carriers to make use of the cooperation agreements in place between them to manage jointly the capacity of the fleets. The document recalls that this option has become the main element of coordination between containerised shipping companies in follow-up to the regulatory measures introduced by the European Union and from the United States in the early 2000s in order to ban the joint fixing of maritime transport tariffs in the context of liner conferences. According to ITF, expectations according to which these measures would have had the consequence of stimulate competition at the level of freight and reduce however, these tariffs have been disrupted by the increase in of their value at record levels as of 2020.

The ITF report includes some exhortations to mitigate the negative effects of maritime supply chain dysfunctions on markets, starting from increasing the monitoring of conditions of competition in the maritime transport sector of containers, also with the strengthening of the role of agencies specialized and through the increase of cooperation between the various competition authorities, given that their actions they are interdependent.

According to the ITF, it would also be necessary to reconsider the competition agreements for the maritime transport sector of line in order to ensure a sufficiently wide choice of reliable operators and services. Review that - for the non-governmental organization - could lead to a limitation of joint management of hold capacity by maritime carriers with the aim of promoting greater competition between shipping companies.

The FTT also calls for a focus on standards for fair competition in door-to-door container transport, given that the continuous process of vertical integration put in place from the containerized maritime transport industry poses new challenges to competition regulation. The report notes that shipping companies, in fact, can use the exemptions granted to them in many jurisdictions by the Law on competition and can exploit their influence as carriers for gain competitive advantages in markets where they now compete directly with freight forwarders, with service providers ports or with logistics operators that do not have such exemptions from competition law. The ITF therefore highlights the the need for regulators to ensure sufficient competition in port markets and land logistics in which carriers have also entered containerized seafarers.

The International Transport Forum also calls on governments to pose measures in place to increase the transparency of transport freight rates maritime containerized and other shipping costs of container. The report specifies that a measure could consist of in the creation of lists of accepted surpluses and requirements on how to calculate them. In addition, according to the ITF, the burden of proof for justify such price supplements should be borne by the maritime carrier rather than shippers, which instead currently they often have to prove that these costs are free of justification. In particular, the costs of demurrage and detention charged to shippers to facilitate transport flows in ports should be made more effective by ensuring that are related to the costs incurred and should be charged to the shippers or shippers only if these are the subjects able to remedy the situation and not where others subjects are responsible for the prolonged stops of the containers in the terminal.

Among the other suggestions put forward by the ITF there is also to charge more for infrastructure costs public seafarers on the users of these infrastructures. The document notes that currently in the European Union the companies of navigation contribute only 4% to the cost of financing and infrastructure maintenance in ports and canals interoceanic and notes that, in general, maritime carriers they pay only a fraction of these costs which is also lower to that paid by all other modes of transport. According to the ITF, to achieve greater spending efficiency public governments should recover a greater share of the infrastructure costs through the imposition of tariffs and charges.

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