India antitrust watchdog issues advisories to DP World, Maersk units operating at Mumbai port

A DP World spokesperson said the company had not received any such order from the Indian watchdog, but it was ‘committed to ensuring’ it complies with all laws. (Reuters)
Updated 18 January 2019

India antitrust watchdog issues advisories to DP World, Maersk units operating at Mumbai port

  • The Competition Commission of India last year ordered a probe into suspected antitrust violations by DP World and Maersk units
  • The antitrust dispute at the JNPT is based on so-called inter-terminal transfers

NEW DELHI: India’s antitrust watchdog has ordered Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk and Dubai’s DP World to withdraw certain customer advisories which it said could hamper growth of the country’s largest container port in Mumbai, a document seen by Reuters showed.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) last year ordered a probe into suspected antitrust violations by DP World and Maersk units at the terminals they operate at state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
Handling 66 million tons of cargo in the last fiscal year to March, JNPT is critical to India’s international trade. The port handles more than half of India’s traffic in shipping containers each year.
The probe was ordered as the CCI found merit in a complaint filed by Singapore’s PSA International, which alleged the rival duo had created barriers to hinder the growth of PSA’s terminal by colluding on certain charges they levy at the port.
Though the terminal operators handle each other’s containers to help boost the port’s efficiency, PSA had alleged that DP World and Maersk last year issued advisories aimed at discouraging port users from sending PSA’s containers to their terminals.
In an order issued by the CCI on Jan. 15, the watchdog ordered Maersk and DP World units to withdraw those advisories, saying it “smacks of anti-competitive” conduct.
The advisories, if not withdrawn, would cause “irretrievable damage or losses” not only to PSA, and would not augur well for the port’s development, according to the order. It has not been made public.
“This is likely to generate unwarranted uncertainty, chaos, discontent and anxiety among shipping lines and customers,” the CCI said.
The order is only an interim measure, and the wider probe continues.
A DP World spokesperson said the company had not received any such order from the Indian watchdog, but it was “committed to ensuring” it complies with all laws.
A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping group, did not respond to queries. PSA, which is owned by Singapore government-owned investment fund Temasek Holdings, declined to comment.
The antitrust dispute at the JNPT is based on so-called inter-terminal transfers.
Under the system, freight trains arriving at JNPT typically carry containers destined for several terminals, but stop at just one that handles all the cargo on a given day. Other operators then collect their containers by truck for loading at their own terminals. A similar procedure is followed, in reverse, when imported containers are unloaded.
DP World’s advisory had said the inter-terminal operations with PSA were “inefficient and unviable.” Maersk had said its terminal “shall not be responsible” for handling containers to and from PSA-terminal bound trains.
Both the companies denied PSA’s allegations while arguing to the CCI that the advisories were based on “commercial justifications,” the order said.
Units of Maersk, DP World and PSA operate four of the JNPT port’s five terminals, with the fifth owned by the government. The PSA terminal, inaugurated in February, is planned to be the largest, expected to nearly double JNPT’s capacity.


Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Updated 35 min 16 sec ago

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”