AN ANNOUNCEMENT by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission of plans for a discussion paper into a ‘class exemption’ for liner shipping has been welcomed by Shipping Australia.

The possible ‘narrow exemption’ would replace Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act, which allows shipping lines to collaborate on certain matters in the provision of regular services.

SAL chief executive Rod Nairn said they met with the ACCC in May last year to initiate consultation on the development of a block exemption to meet the needs of the shipping sector.

“Our members welcome the announcement that the discussion paper is now under development and we look forward to being engaged by the ACCC at an early stage in the development of the discussion paper,” Mr Nairn said.

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“Our members are keen to see the development of a block exemption that protects the needs of shipping lines providing competitive shipping services for Australia.”

Mr Nairn said there were “recognised problems” with the existing Part X, notably that it is “bureaucratic, inflexible and delays the timely changes shipping services need to meet market demands”.

“However, there are some important protections to shipping lines that we cannot afford to lose,” he said.

“So until a suitable block exemption has been agreed with the shipping industry, our members will continue to operate under the protections pf Part X of the CCA. “It has been successful in enabling the provision of cost effective and competitive shipping services.”

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