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This Block Exemption is quite simply it is out-dated, out-moded and must be removed.’ This was the message Freight Transport Association took to the public hearing organised  by the European Commission’s Competition Directorate in Brussels yesterday, 4 December.  At the hearing FTA made it clear that it will continue to press for the complete removal of the block exemption for liner shipping on behalf of its shipper, Google Penalty Recovery Services forwarder.FTA represents over 10,000 companies, many of which are involved in international trade and rely on services provided by the liner shipping industry.

In a letter to the UK Minister for Employment Relations, Competition and Consumers John Allan, FTA President and Chief Executive of Exel, said that protectionism that allows collective price fixing in today’s commercial environment is an anathema to business people around the world.Independent cost control and yield management are the watchwords of business today, not collective price fixing.

FTA has played a leading role over the last 10 years in fighting abuses of the shipping lines, abuses and practices that have harmed business interests, and damaged customer-carrier relations and we will continue to participate in the review of the Regulation that sets the conditions for block exemption from competition law for liner shipping conferences .

The practices made possible by Regulation 4056 of 1986, achieve nothing but distortion of the market to suit their own interests.The shipping lines claim conferences to be “effective, efficient and inexpensive” whereas their customers contest that they are in fact defective, deficient and expensive. Shippers concluded the hearing by saying that liner services are irrelevant; shippers need predictability of prices through transparency of costs, and were completely willing to accept the consequences of free liner shipping market since the benefits far outweighed all possible draw-backs.