Thursday, September 10, 2009

Subsidy Squabble Continues as Container Carriers Face Problems

Dissent After CMA CGM Boss Calls for State Aid
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – The Danish Shipowners’ Association, who represent the country’s major freight carriers, including AP Moeller-Maersk, have spoken out against an appeal last week from the chairman of CMA CGM for Governments to subsidise the industry.

Msieu. Jacques Saade (pictured), founder and head of the giant French group, had called for state and bank aid to support European container ship owners during the current difficult times, claiming the EU rules were “penalising, irrational and unjustified, and that “the Asian nations….have a freedom that is prejudicial to us in Europe.” He then called on the “competent authorities” to protect the big three European owned container carriers, Mediterranean Shipping, CMA CGM and AP Moeller-Maersk.

During a speech to MEDEF, the French employers association, Msieu. Saade blames the revocation of the conference line system, considered a protectionist cartel by the EU in 2006 and the consequential imposition of free trade regulations last year, which he says Asian companies are immune to, for the crisis.

AP Moeller-Maersk would make no direct comment but the Danish Shipowners’ Association statement makes it clear they believe that, whilst the French company would probably benefit from state aid this would not necessarily be the case in other European countries. They believe that trade policy should be unified pressure on behalf of all European lines and misuse of subsidies needed global investigation. They did however believe bridging loan schemes were acceptable in a period when banks were demanding higher collateral levels against future shipbuilding.