China’s NDRC suspends probe into 18 container shipping companies

29 March 2017. By MLex Staff.

China's National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, has suspended its high-profile investigation into the global container shipping industry, allowing most of the companies to settle through commitments to lower their charges, MLex has learned.

The settlement was reached after the NDRC announced on March 27 that a total of 18 global container shipping lines have promised to lower their terminal handling charges to save exporters and importers 4.6 billion yuan ($668 million) a year.

The 18 shipping lines include China Cosco Shipping, K-Line, Maersk Line and Orient Overseas (International).

The NDRC has not publicized the settlement decision. It was not immediately clear whether the remaining two companies involved in the probe will be subject to penalties.

MLex reported last December that the NDRC might allow most of the companies suspected of participating in the collusion to settle the case through commitments. The companies were suspected of striking cartel agreements on terminal handling charges.

It is understood that some shipping companies have argued for exemptions for agreements that are potentially monopolistic under Article 15 of China's Anti-Monopoly Law. They say they filed freight agreements with the Ministry of Transportation, and therefore those arrangements should not be regarded as cartel practices.

	Eliot Gao