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Alliance free future?

Industry expert predicts the current carrier alliance structure will be replaced by a handful of stronger, individual lines with a deeper reach into land side logistics.

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There is an increasing likelihood that the current alliance structure in the liner shipping industry will change in the next three-to five years, according to Dr Theo Notteboom, director of the Center for Eurasian Maritime and Inland Logistics and a professor Shanghai Maritime University and the Universities of Antwerp and Ghent.


Speaking to WCN at TOC Europe 2019, he said: “Of the four options that I see could take place – no change, a reshuffling of the existing pack, dissolution or reform by the European Commission – I see a break-up and their replacement by a few strong individual carriers.


“Market dynamics are changing rapidly with ocean carriers keen to become more involved in the supply chain and more vertically integrated as seen by CMA CGM’s purchase of CEVA and the ongoing restructuring carried out by Maersk.”


Notteboom added; “Current legislation restricts what alliances can do landside and this is not going to get any easier whatever next year’s EC ruling on consortia legislation brings.”


Clearly, Maersk, MSC, China Cosco Shipping Company and CMA CGM have the critical mass to already run multiple services on their most important trade lanes and further consolidation is possible. “Uncertainty surrounds Evergreen, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Yangming Line and changes here would speed up the dissolution option, along with an improved trading situation,” he said.

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