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PUBLISHER: The Load Star (www.theloadstar.com)

Increased commercial power, diminished choice and competition, along with carrier exemption from competition regulations are distorting the container shipping market, according to the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

Its director general, Robert Keen, is the latest in a list of shippers and their representatives to raise competition concerns with regulatory authorities following investigations by the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and a letter from European freight forwarders’ association Clecat to the EC Competition Commission in October.

Clecat asked the EC to begin its block exemption review for carrier alliances early, but the commission responded by saying it was closely monitoring the sector and no anti-competitive practices had been observed. The block exemption review is due to start in the first half of this year.

Even so, Mr Keen highlighted the distortions in the container shipping market in a letter to Robert Courts, UK parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport.

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