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Hong Kong: VSAs granted antitrust exemption

 |  August 9, 2017

Hong Kong has given a free pass to container lines to engage in vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) without contravening antitrust rules, but has turned down a bid to allow discussions groups.

The competition commission said a block exemption order has been granted to 16 shipowners for five years, provided they don’t breach its terms by engaging in price fixing, for example.

“The sharing of competitively sensitive pricing information between competitors and the agreement of recommending pricing guidelines may give rise to competition concerns,” the commission said in a statement explaining its ruling, adding that carriers are more likely to raise prices high above the market level under such agreements.

“We are very disappointed that commercial agreements are not included [in the ruling],” said Roberto Giannetta, secretary general of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association. The business body, whose 16 corporate members own 90% of the city’s containerised liner market, filed the application for exemption in 2015, when the city’s Competition Ordinance came into effect.

Full Content: South China Morning Post

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