testata inforMARE

20 ottobre 2020 Il quotidiano on-line per gli operatori e gli utenti del trasporto 02:11 GMT+2

6. Overlapping of operational areas, intermodal transport prices and Shipping Conferences

The networks of transport and inland terminals progressively established by the main companies, groups and alliances in intermodal transport, and in container traffic in particular, lead not only to the already cited overlapping of traffic areas of the shipping lines and enterprises. They also lead, in fact, to the overlapping of traffic areas (of jurisdiction) of the Shipping Conferences, resulting in a profound transformation of the general picture and range of operations of the latter, often accompanied by a loss of precision in their geographical delimitation.

Another contributory factor - again within the context of the evolution characterized by consortia, alliances, etc. in intermodal transport - is the establishment of networks of feeder shipping services between transhipment ports and supply ports, also taking into account the possible change in the roles of the individual ports in the overall organization of the activity of consortia and alliances. While these service networks may at times feature striking internal competition, they do at the same time constitute an important innovative element and a factor aiding development in areas of traffic such as those of Mediterranean cabotage or those of Northern Europe between the Continent, the British Isles and Scandinavia.

These factors, jointly operating to formulate supply prices for "inland junction to inland junction" (as opposed to "port to port") services, cast doubt and uncertainty on the meaning of tariffs limited solely to the shipping segment. In this way as well, the Conferences are propelled towards a pronounced evolution, with a possible loss of influence in their traditional fields of intervention and control. It is common knowledge that the loss of meaning for tariffs for shipping service only, together with the formulation of inland "junction-to-junction" or "door-to-door" prices, has become the focus of attention for anti-trust and fair trading bodies, at least as regards the European Union.

All this cannot fail to raise a series of weighty issues, especially if it is borne in mind that the modern Shipping Conferences were born in the 1870s together with the advent of steam navigation and the opening of the Suez Canal, as agreements limiting competition and aimed at ensuring the continued existence of commercial shipping lines and a sufficiently stable supply of services regarding traffic connections. The latter were, in turn, periodically monitored so as to guarantee this stability and enable shippers, import-export operators and industry to formulate and implement their operating programs over time.


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