Shipping companies mock Seoul fines for fixing prices – ‘they won’t hurt us’

Shipping lines hit with a collective $80.7 million fine by the Korea Fair Trade Commission for price-fixing say it will not have a substantial impact on their operations or finances.

Wan Hai Lines spokeswoman Laura Su said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing that the company has yet to receive a notification from the authority.

She added: “The reported fine of approximately $9.6 million has no significant impact on the company’s finances and operations. We will discuss follow-up processing with an attorney to protect the rights and interests of the company.

Yang Ming GM Du Shu-chin said his company faced a fine of around $2 million and added, “The company has appointed a lawyer to protect its rights and interests, and the penalty has no impact. significant impact on our financial situation.”

Evergreen faces a fine of around $2.85 million, its chairman, Eric Hsieh, said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing, while an HMM spokesperson told The Loadstar: “As soon as the KFTC will provide HMM with official notification, we will review and decide. implement the appropriate measures.

The Korean Shipowners Association, which represents South Korea’s 14 liner operators, is considering legal action to overturn the sanctions, while the Agriculture, Food, Rural, Oceans and Fisheries Affairs of the National Assembly pledged to “do everything possible”. to reverse the fine.

The other lines concerned are Cosco, OOCL, the intra-Asia unit of CMA CGM, Cheng Lie Navigation and Pacific International Lines. Shipping companies were fined for fixing freight prices on the South Korea-Southeast Asia route between 2003 and 2018, when the companies were members of the intra-Asian talks agreement, today now defunct, which decided freight rates on various intra-Asian routes.

South Korea and various countries’ transport ministries have allowed shipping companies to set freight rates through collective action. However, South Korean law failed to shield those actions from antitrust lawsuits, leaving shipping companies vulnerable when timber importers filed a lawsuit in July 2018.