The European Commission said
on Tuesday it had fined 15 liner shipping companies a total of just under $6.3 million for agreeing not to offer discounts from their published tariffs. The companies involved were members of the now-defunct Far East Trade Tariff Charges and Surcharges Agreement (FETTCSA), and include Germany
's Hapag-Lloyd AG, Denmark's A.P. Moeller and Britain's P&O Nedlloyd.
The Commission said the fines were modest because an agreement not to discount is less damaging to competition than a price-fixing cartel.
"Shipping lines operating within liner conferences benefit from an exceptionally generous exemption from the normal European competition rules," EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said. "It is important that a conference is faced by effective competition from independent shipping lines operating outside the conference. The FETTCSA case shows that the Commission will act firmly where conference and non-conference shipping lines conspire together as a cartel." - (Reuters)