Cosco Container Lines is to raise its container freight rates between Shanghai and Europe by US$150 per teu (20 ft equivalent unit) from July. Managing director Jin Zhongming said Cosco was following the example of other lines which were also raising their charges on the route. 'We had a meeting with Orient Overseas Container Line and other lines last week and decided on the freight rate increase,' he said. The move is to meet rising operating costs and means the line will charge $1,050 per teu to ship goods from Shanghai to Europe. Mr Jin said the carrier, which is not a member of any rate-making group, was charging rates in line with the market. Last week Mr Jin attended a symposium in Hamburg, giving a speech on the prospects for China's ocean liner fleet. 'Cosco has always insisted on pricing freight rates according to the situation of the market and has never initiated any reduction of freight rates,' he said. The firm was willing to co-operate with foreign shipping lines to exchange slots or space charter in feeder and trunk services. Mr Jin said that in the past few years the increasing size of ships had outstripped growth in cargo volumes and freight rates had deteriorated rapidly. This in turn had hit shipping firms' financial results. As container liner shipping was a capital-intensive business which faced high risks and gave a low rate of return on investment, only an efficient management style could cope. Mr Jin said that as competition in the global shipping market grew more intense, vessels were getting larger and shipping lines were forming more alliances. Large vessels had increased capacity, sharpening their competitive edge and enabling carriers to enjoy economies of scale. Alliances had also helped lines make best use of their ships' space and allowed them to enter new trades. 'In our view, both the deployment of large-sized vessels and the formation of alliances among shipping companies are the result of the more intensified competition in the world shipping market,' he said. Cosco was working hard to improve its services in the face of competition. Many foreign lines had started to make direct calls at Chinese ports since the mainland opened its shipping industry. The company was changing its outdated way of thinking and was developing an efficient, market-orientated and internationally competitive ocean fleet, and also adopting modern management systems.