Aust shipping companies criticise NZ Productivity Commission

BUSINESSDESK: Shipping Australia is accusing the New Zealand Productivity Commission of poor number crunching when it concluded something needs to be done to stop shipping companies fixing prices.

The attack by the lobby group representing 35 shipping companies came in a submission to a draft report on strengthening trans-Tasman economic relations.

The NZ commission was involved in the trans-Tasman study and in April published a separate report advocating regulatory clearance of price fixing and other anti-competitive arrangements in shipping.

Shipping companies are exempt from competition law.

Shipping Australia found the commission's freight report to be "extremely disappointing".

"There was no economic analysis of the global state of international freight liner shipping or, in particular, the trans-Tasman trade between Australia and New Zealand," the council says.

It would have been helpful if there had been rigorous economic analysis of the New Zealand situation. There was nothing to suggest that the removal of the exemption from competition law would be in the public interest or in the interests of exporter and importers.

The council also argued that exemptions to international shipping companies were common and they had recently been extended by Japan and Singapore.

The council wants the productivity commission to recommend only that more studies be undertaken on the issue.

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An industry lobby group bristling at allegations of price fixing? Now there’s a surprise.

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