A HONGKONG non-vessel operating cargo carrier (NVOCC) has described as ''grossly unfair'' a recent industry comment that NVOCCs are parasites. The Hongkong operator, who would not be named, rejected the ''off the cuff'' remark made by Mr Alan Bott, director of P&O containers, about NVOCCs which were reported by International Freighting Weekly. ''Regarding price undercutting, it is actually the carriers who are at fault as they are undercutting each other to get more cargo,'' the NVOCC operator said. He said NVOCCs played an important role in the transportation chain between the shipper and the shipping line as they could offer a wider service range to a user than those offered by a freight forwarder. An NVOCC could provide a shipper with services from filling out a shipping order, arranging transportation and preparing the bill of lading until the cargo was delivered, he said. To take advantage of this assistance, the carriers needed to provide attractive rates for NVOCCs and freight forwarders would not bother, he explained. ''Actually we play a complementary role in the market by assisting carriers to achieve their targets,'' the operator said. Mr Robert Davies, chief operating officer of the US-based Direct Container Line Inc, said it was unfortunate that Mr Bott had ''tarred all NVOCC's with the same brush''. ''His comments were obviously directed at NVO's who are principally involved in full container loads (FCL) or FCL movements and have made no investment in facilities, equipment or people,'' he said. Mr Davies said Mr Bott also had forgotten to mention P&O Container's investments in Ocean Link in the United Kingdom, which had acted as an NVO for many years, and Radway in the US, which is a trucking company that had in the last 18 months created a division solely devoted to NVOCC operations. ''I seriously doubt that Mr Bott has any knowledge of the operations or investment companies like ourselves, or our major competitors, have put into the NVO business,'' he said. He added that Mr Bott had virtually sealed his company's fate as far as support of genuine NVOCC's was concerned. Mr Bott was quoted by IFW as saying at the SITL conference in Paris that ''the NVOCC is a pond-skater. He just goes where the business is''. ''The NVOCCs are a prime example of how bad money drives out good. They are undercutting rates and killing the trade for everyone,'' he was quoted as saying. ''We can never stop them, but if you build a ship and put down GBP50 million (about HK$600 million) for it, you feel rather more that you need a structured tariff,'' said Mr Bott. Grabbing tariff advantage was offending against the basic laws of ship owners who invest in the future, he claimed. Some round-the-world operators also were pond-skaters, Mr Bott said. Part of the problem on the North Atlantic was that round-the-world operators costed this section of the trade marginally, leading to an erosion of rates, he said. The transatlantic conference did not work because there was rates anarchy. Mr Bott said that P&O Containers been in the transatlantic trade for five years - ''every one of them a total disaster''. If the Transatlantic Agreement (TAA) did not make rates stick, other lines will have to get out, he said.