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ACCC probes huge rise in container chain costs

Sims takes to media to flag probe into transport and handling


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is examining international container shipping and handling, as costs have risen some 300 per cent in the past year.

The move comes as a review of container shipping lines’ competition exemption remains stalled due to concerns by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation’s concerns about ACCC class exemptions generally.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics reviewed the ACCC’s last annual report in February, with committee chair Tim Wilson saying it was “keen to continue scrutinising the ACCC on its pandemic response, enforcement, its review of hardship policies and in maintaining and promoting competition”.  

The cost rises affect all imported goods, including trucking-industry consumables and parts.

Read the ACCC’s finding on stevedores’ terminal access charges, here

Widely seen as an outcome spurred by a disrupted international system that has seen shipping rates rise more than 500 per cent in some cases, the local container-logistics cost hikes come on top of those due to the states allowing stevedores to open up an unregulated landside revenue stream.

The ACCC has long viewed the latter as a logical function of states leasing ports to and protecting monopoly operators.

ACCC CEO Rod Sims was short on specific detail about the probe, which is yet to be officially announced, when talking to the ABC show The Business and The Australian.

“We’re going to look at to what extent this is a structural problem – due to the fact that you’ve got concentration in shipping, which has occurred a lot – or to what extent is it a short-term issue, due to the spikes in demand as people consume more goods and less services as Covid-19 interrupts the supply chain,” Sims told The Business

The ACCC has registered concern at rising stevedore charges in its past two Container Stevedoring Monitoring reports, with this year’s due in November.


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