International liner cargo shipping regulation

  • Normally shipping conference agreements between 2 or more shipping liners can breach competition and cartel rules.
  • Shipping liners that register their agreement receive certain exemptions from competition and cartel rules.

What the ACCC does

  • We investigate complaints from parties adversely affected by a registered shipping conference agreement.
  • We can start our own investigation into the operation of an agreement.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t administer the central register of shipping conference agreements. The Department of Infrastructure manages this register.
  • We don’t assess whether a registered agreement is in the public interest.

About registered agreements and exemptions

A conference is a type of agreement that 2 or more shipping liners make. It may include agreements on freight rates, sharing each other’s vessel and coordinating scheduling.

Normally, these types of agreements can breach the competition and cartel rules in Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Australian importers and exporters rely on the cargo shipping services by international liners.

Shipping liners that register their agreement with the Registrar of Liner Shipping receive certain exemptions from competition and cartel rules. Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 contains the steps shipping liners must take to qualify for this exemption.

Once registered, conference agreements between shipping liners are not in breach of the competition and cartel rules in Part IV of the Act.

What we do in international liner cargo shipping

The ACCC has a limited role in international liner cargo shipping.

We investigate complaints from parties negatively affected by a registered conference agreement. This can be a complaint from the affected party or referred to us by the responsible Minister.

We can also investigate the operation of an agreement without receiving a complaint.

After investigating, we can recommend that the Minister deregisters a shipping conference agreement.

See the Shipping investigations register for information about our investigations.

The legal basis of our functions

The functions we perform come from Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Make a complaint about a registered agreement

If you have been negatively impacted by a registered conference agreement between shipping liners, you can make a complaint to the ACCC.

Make a report to the ACCC

See also

International liner shipping on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

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