Investigation of the Antitrust to check whether the terminalists of the port of Naples have applied a tariff increase by violating competition rules
Introduced an "energy surcharge" dependant on freight forwarders
July 27, 2023
The Competition Authority and Market Authority has initiated an investigation against the terminaliste companies CO.NA.TE.CO. and SO.TE.CO. of the Port of Naples, of the Marinvest company of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which holds the entire social capital of the first terminalist company and indirectly controls the second, and of the terminalist society Terminal Flavio Gioia (TFG), also operating in the Neapolitan port, for an alleged restrictive understanding of competition in the field of cargo handling services in the port area.
According to the Authority, these operators would have agreed to apply the same tariff increase at the same time, introducing the new tariff entry "energy surcharge", for all import containers destined for the terminals of the port of Naples. Such an agreement would identify the exact amount of the fee to be applied (25 euros for each container from 20 feet and 30 euros for each 40-foot container) and the date of its journey (1 ° February 2023) and would actually be implemented by the company. Specifying that this tariff increase would only be introduced by the terminaliste companies of the port of Naples, the antitrust case highlighted that the alleged understanding, which would determine the coordination of the commercial strategies of all the terminalists active in the handling of containers in the port of Naples, appears likely to significantly alter the competition in the market concerned.
In the start-up communication of the appraiser the AGCM explains that, " with a joint note subscribed by the companies Co. Na.Te.Co., TFG and SoTeCo, addressed to the associations A.C.C.S.E.A., ASSOSPENA, to the Compartmental Council of Customs Freight forwarders Naples, as well as the AdSP of the Central Tirreno Sea and dated January 23, 2023, has been told the following : " [ ... ] the writings port terminals Co. Na.Te.Co., Terminal Flavio Gioia and So.Te.Co. are facing a generalised increase in costs [ ... ] including, principally, the unpredictable and unintended increase in electricity costs (+ 130% compared to 2021) and other sources fuels (+ 40% self-traction oil) as well as, as a cherry on the cake, the increment/retrofit on an automatic basis of the concessionary fees that this year reaches the incredible increase of 25% (which adds up to the increase of almost 10% last year). " "In order to remedy this situation, the terminalist companies have decided to introduce, in their respective tariff, a new entry, called for the convenience of exposure" energy surcharge, " which will be applied by the next 02/01/2023 to all import containers that will disembark at their respective terminals, to the extent of € 25 x each container from 20 'and € 30 for each container from 40'. The amount will be invoiced at the exit of the container from the terminal, in one to the other possible expenses accruing after the landing. "
The AGCM clarifies that "according to the terminalist companies, the recipient of a request for information from the Authority, the tariff cited, although referred to as" energy surcharge ", must be understood as referring not only to the general increase in the cost of electricity and fuel sources in general, but also to the increase in the amount of the tax concession fee due to the MTC AdSP ".
" From the documentation acquired to the acts-specific still to the Antitrust-it also appears that the member associations of Confetra Campania the recipient of the above-mentioned communication represented, through a joint communique, their contravage to the increases reported that " the increase in energy costs, while evident, affects the activities related to the landing of the containers and therefore the natural recipients of the tariff change are the Vs customers, i.e. the shipping companies to which our associates already pay for ancillary services. "
"In the face of this communication, the terminalists of the port of Naples have decided to jointly replicate, representing their unitary position with a note on January 27, 2023 in which they read that ;" [ ... ] the writing reiterates everything how much already expressed in the communication in the object and will therefore proceed to apply the new tariff entry in the terms of competition already indicated. '. The terminalist societies, however, in that note contemplate the possibility of opening "a dialogue aimed at a review of our decision" where the MTC AdSP should intervene to sterilize or minimize the increase in the concessional fees. "
" It Turns Out, finally, that the tariff increases agreed upon and announced by the terminaliste companies of the port of Naples were actually applied by these entities, in the agreed terms, at least in February 2023. Such operators have, in fact, produced the list of freight forwarders to which the "surcharge" was applied in February 2023, with the indication of the amount paid for each container category. "
In its decision to initiate the investigation, the AGCM clarifies that " the documentation acquired leaves out the existence of an agreement between the undertakings carrying out the terminaliste activity in the port of Naples, aimed at the joint, coordinated application and agreed on a particular fee
to the forwarders "and that" the agreement, concerning the increase in the fees of the services rendered by the terminalists of the port of Naples, appears suitable to significantly affect the price competition between those operators, in violation of Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Law no. 287/1990. The deal is under consideration, involving the tariffs of freight services in the port of Naples, one of the main ports in Italy, which is affected by flows of domestic and international shipping routes, the Antitrust watchlist said. -may be liable to affect intra-European trade, in violation of Article 101 TFEU. The agreement in question appears, finally, to be substantial, as it involves the totality of the operators active in the supply of container handling services in the port of Naples. "
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