Forwarders fear ‘shut-out’ as other major lines emulate Maersk strategy

This complaint from freight forwarders is starting to resonate. It appears the major container carriers are gradually refusing to sell bulk space on container ships to brokers and forwarders, instead making them buy on the spot market.

One of the issues is to determine whether the liner companies are favoring large brokers and forwarders with discounted contracts, to the disadvantage of smaller brokers. Are there sweetheart deals? I am betting that for sure there will be space available from large brokers to smaller brokers. Price discipline is notoriously hard to enforce.

Is it anti-competitive to offer spot prices? No, I think not. Is it anti-competitive to offer different prices to different groups? Quite possibly. It’s worth a review by government agencies and regulators.

In competitive economics, fairness is not a principle; however, in political life it could be seen as unfair to drive out of business a group of substantial size who provide customized services of a very precise nature in a niche, to some shippers. Those skills may have value to society as a whole that are not captured in prices. That’s where regulation comes in.

By Alex Lennane and Ian Putzger 20/01/2022

Forwarders fear ‘shut-out’ as other major lines emulate Maersk strategy – The Loadstar

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