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SHANGHAI, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Maersk Line plans to launch its new vessel sharing service with MSC Mediterranean as early as January next year, and expects to notify customers of the network and transit times by September.
The world’s largest container shipper, part of Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, and Swiss firm Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) reached an agreement on ship-sharing in July, a month after China’s Ministry of Commerce blocked a larger plan by the two firms and France’s CMA CGM due to competition concerns.
The global industry has been battling overcapacity since the financial crisis because new vessels ordered before the downturn have flooded the market. With freight rates still in the doldrums, the companies hope their new effort at pooling ships will help them reduce operating costs.
The container shipper gave notice of the new, so-called 2M vessel sharing agreement (VSA) to China’s Ministry of Transport in July, Maersk China’s Managing Director Jens Eskelund told reporters in a briefing in Shanghai on Wednesday.
Eskelund said that unlike the earlier plan, known as P3, the 2M service did not need approval from the commerce ministry. The two partners were only required to file details of the deal with the transport ministry.
The Ministry of Commerce had said earlier that they rejected the P3 alliance because the three firms would have had more than 40 percent of Asia-Europe and trans-Atlantic trade, crucial paths in the global trade of goods.
Director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s anti-monopoly bureau, Shang Ming, said in an interview with China’s state broadcaster last month that he was still worried the 2M alliance could erode the bargaining power of China’s import-export firms against big shipping companies.
Eskelund, though, said the market share to be held by Maersk Line and MSC on the Asia-Europe route would be similar to what other shipping alliances held. “Other alliances have been able to operate similar market shares to the ones that we will have on Asia-Europe,” Eskelund said.
Analysts said 2M would give the shippers less than 30 percent capacity share on the Asia-Europe shipping route.
Other alliances operating on the Asia-Europe route include G6 – made up of six shippers including Neptune Orient Lines Ltd and Nippon Yusen KK.
The CKYHE alliance – made up of shipping companies from China, Taiwan and South Korea – also operates on the route. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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