FEFC faces EC anti-trust penalties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 1993, 12:00am

THE Far Eastern Freight Conference, which faces a European Commission fine after a recent anti-trust ruling, has denied that its members' multi-modal services were anti-competitive.

Mr A.P.G. Giles, director-general of FEFC, said the conference was exempted under EC law by regulation 4056/86.

''The FEFC is currently actively studying the statement of objections and will vigorously defend the practice of multi-modal transport rate making which dates back to the 1870s and whose flexible structures have been fundamental in the containerisation of cargo transport since the early 1970s,'' he said.

''It is clear, not only to the FEFC, but to most informed economic opinion throughout the world that multi-modal transport services are of great benefit to industry, allowing cost-effective transport services answering industry's needs.'' The EC had upheld shippers' accusation that the FEFC had breached EC anti-trust rules with its combined sea-land tariff for door-to-door transport.

The commission sent a statement of objections to the FEFC and its member shipping lines after complaints from industry organisations which sponsor the German Council of Maritime Shippers.

Mr Giles admitted that the conference had received the objections from the EC's directorate-general.

An FEFC spokesman alleged that the timing was politically motivated and that the conference would ''go through it with a fine-tooth comb.'' The EC was quoted by London news reports as saying that its rules allowed shipping conferences to collectively fix maritime prices, but did not cover combined tariffs including the inland transport leg of the journey.

Those accused could respond with their arguments before the EC makes a decision, which could include a fine if it finds the FEFC and its member lines guilty.

FEFC members include P & O, Nedlloyd Group, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd.

In another move, FEFC member lines will meet the Vietnam Government in the near future to discuss various issues including port facilities.

A FEFC spokesman said although potential for cargoes was improving all the time, some conference members would not be calling at its port.