BRUSSELS, June 18 (Reuters) – Maritime regulators from the United States, China and the European Union agreed on Thursday to cooperate more closely to monitor increased tie-ups among shipping groups.
European and Asian container shipping groups have formed or expanded vessel-sharing alliances in the past year and the four main groupings control more than 90 percent of the market on major global routes.
“With the continued growth in scope of carriers’ cooperation, the authorities considered that monitoring of the sector warrants ever closer contact and better communication between competition and regulatory authorities,” the European Commission, which hosted the meeting, said in a statement.
French container shipping group CMA CGM sealed an alliance called Ocean Three in September with China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd (CSCL) and United Arab Shipping Co (UASC) in a bid to save costs.
The world’s largest vessel-sharing agreement, 2M combining Maersk Line and MSC, began operations in January.
A proposed partnership between Maersk, MSC and CMA was vetoed by China last year.
The shipping industry has been battling overcapacity linked to a glut of new vessels ordered during a boom period before the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, forcing operators to look for ways to become more efficient.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said it had hosted the meeting with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission and the Chinese ministry of transport focused on increased tie-ups in shipping and regulatory issues related to ports. (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)