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News 24 reports that the Competition Commission on Wednesday conducted a search and seizure operation at the premises of six cargo shipping companies operating in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal (KZN) on suspicion of collusion and rate fixing, the body said in a statement.

“The Commission has reasonable grounds to suspect that Hamburg Sud South Africa, Maersk South Africa, Safmarine, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Pacific International Line South Africa and CMA CGM Shipping Agencies South Africa have engaged in collusive practices,” the Commission said.

The companies’ practices aimed to among other things fix the incremental rates for the shipment of cargo from Asia to South Africa, which was in contravention of the Competition Act.

According to the Commission, the search and seizure operation is conducted as part of an ongoing investigation which was initiated by the Commission based on information from a member of the public.

The companies under investigation transport cargo for import and export purposes across the globe, including South Africa. They use large metal containers as packaging crates and in-transit warehouses to store and transport general cargo such as frozen foods, garments and footwear.

The customers of these companies are mainly clearing and freight forward agents.

“South Africa is a strategic hub for the trade of goods in and out of the Southern African region. Any cartel by shipping liners in this region results in inflated prices for cargo transportation,” said Tembinkosi Bonakele, commissioner of the Competition Commission.

“Cartels of this nature increase the costs of trading in the region and render the region uncompetitive in the world markets. Such cartels have the effect of significantly derailing the economic growth of the region.”

Reuters reported that Maersk and MSC confirmed the raids and said they were cooperating with authorities. The other companies did not respond to Reuters’ requests for immediate comment.

“The fact that the SACC carries out such inspections does not mean that a company has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour,” Maersk said.

EU antitrust regulators in July accepted an offer from Maersk and 13 competitors to change their pricing practices in order to stave off possible fines. Source: News24

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CINS Cargo Incident Visual GraphicPoor or incorrect packing accounts for 37 per cent of cargo incidents in the supply chain, according to data released by the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS).

And 24 per cent of incidents cases are due to mis-declaration of the cargo, it found. The organisation is managed by the Container Owners Association (COA), and was set up by members from five of the COA’s top 20 liner operators; CMA CGM, Evergreen Line, Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk Line and the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

It was created to capture key data, after an increase in incidents that regularly disrupt operations and endanger lives, property or the environment.

CINS’ analysis revealed that 80 per cent of substances involved in cargo incidents are dangerous goods, with half relating to leakage and a further quarter announced mis-declared.

It also showed that incidents relating to mis-declared cargo have increased significantly within the first four months of 2013, compared to the previous 18 months, which the company says has led it to aspire to identify ways to make the supply chain safer.

“We have identified that 24 per cent of all incidents involve mis-declaration and this is probably the first time that this ‘iceberg’ risk has been quantified, said Reinhard Schwede, chairman of CINS.

“Poor or incorrect packaging are persistent causes, accounting for almost 40 per cent of incidents over nearly two years. This is all the more concerning when we recognise that more than a third of the incidents involve corrosive cargoes, which by nature will react with other substances.

“With these findings, the CINS Organisation will engage with enforcement agencies, competent authorities and the IMO to gain support for the relevant changes to legislation or other safe practice recommendations.” Source: Container Owner Association