Indian regulators have launched a probe into allegations that the AP Moller-Maersk units have been using their “influence” to force Indian shippers to use container facilities at Gujarat Pipavav Port (GPPL).
Shippers claim the Danish group’s container shipping divisions, Safmarine and Maersk, have agreed to only provide shipping services in Gujarat state via GPPL facilities operated and part-owned by APM Terminals, also part of the AP Moller-Maersk group, reports London’s International Freighting Weekly.
To support the alleged move, shippers claim the lines have signed a two-year exclusivity deal, which will run until March 31, 2012.
Western India Shippers Association secretary SRL Narasimhan complained that Gujarat Pipavav Port was more expensive to use than rival container facilities.
“Any type of exclusivity is anti-competitive in spirit and nature,” he said. “It will compel exporters and importers to ship their cargo through Pipavav if they are carried on Maersk or Safmarine vessels, rather than through the cheapest port of their choice.”
Shippers are also claiming Maersk Line raised its terminal handling charge to shippers using Gujarat Pipavav Port on September 1.
But neither Safmarine nor Maersk would comment.
“We take all claims of anti-competitive behaviour very seriously and will look into whether there is any substance to these accusations,” said a statement to IFW by each line.
The report added that container cargo accounts for around half of the revenue of GPPL with almost a third of revenue believed to be derived from vessel calls by Maersk Line and Safmarine.