Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), the world’s largest containerline, has hit out at the “baseless complaint” made by an American decor manufacturer in a long running spat.
Splash reported last August Pennsylvania-based MCS, a furniture shipper, had filed a $600,000 lawsuit with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) against MSC and China’s Cosco, claiming the pair had repeatedly contravened terms of the US Shipping Act.
MCS said at the time carriers had “unjustly and unreasonably” exploited customers, and had colluded to manipulate the market.
While Cosco reached a private settlement with MCS, Geneva-based MSC has rubbished the claims made against it.
“We believe that the difficulties MCS Industries experienced with its 2021 cargo bookings under its service contract with MSC arose from errors and communication issues between MCS Industries and third-party intermediaries, and not from any wrongdoing by MSC,” a spokesperson for MSC said yesterday.
Officials suggested that if the liner had seen errors by MSC in fulfilling the contract, the company would have resolved the matter by now. However, more than five months after MCS filed its complaint, the American company has still not provided any information that shows MSC to have breached its service contract.
An earlier allegation of liners working together was already withdrawn.
“MCS Industries has publicised and protracted what we believe to be a baseless complaint that is not a good illustration of the many genuine concerns of carriers, shippers, ports and other actors, all of which are grappling with the challenging Covid-induced market disruptions we all face,” a MSC spokesperson told Splash.
Antitrust authorities around the world have been looking at liners carefully over the past 18 months, scrutinising the nature of global alliances and questioning whether they exert too much control on the main tradelanes.
Earlier this month the British International Freight Association called on the UK government to investigate “distorted market conditions” within the global container shipping market.
Regulators from the US, the EU and China met in September and determined there was so far no evidence of anti-competitive behaviour in container shipping.
In the US, a bipartisan bill that passed in the House last year aims to reform US shipping laws and give the FMC far greater powers.
In 2021, container shipping recorded its greatest ever profits, while at the same time presiding over the worst schedule reliability in the history of the industry. Early indications suggest 2022 is on course to surpass last year’s record liner earnings.
Author: Sam Chambers
Photo: ArnoudNL / Shutterstock.com