The European Liner Affairs Association remained confident its trade statistics database complies with new EU competition rules, but Atlantic Container Line (ACL) says its too risky and has quit ELAA, the group that would replace the rate-fixing conference that will be banned this October.
The ELAA last year awarded a contract to run the information exchange system to Irish software firm P3 Technology, which previously assisted the Far Eastern Freight Conference. Tests of the programme are due to start at the end of this month for the Europe/Australasia and Europe/east coast South America trades before the system is launched in July, said a report by American Shipper.
Chris Bourne, executive director of the ELAA, told American Shipper that shipping lines will deposit monthly TEU figures for about 20 European trades, either on a port-to-port or country-to-country basis, into a "black box" that will be managed by P3.
The ELAA then intends to post the headline trade figures along with other useful information for shippers such as the price of bunker and the costs of going through the Panama and Suez canals.
"We're trying to set a level playing field so there is shared knowledge," Mr Bourne said.
Minutes will also be distributed from the trade association meetings, where lines will be allowed to discuss publicly available market information and will be accompanied by lawyers, the report said.
But Atlantic Container Line chief executive Andrew Abbott was cited as saying that his company had a plentiful supply of publicly available trade statistics and hence saw limited value in what the ELAA was offering.
"Furthermore, carrier organizations are riskier under the new legal framework, and we do not see the benefits of ELAA membership outweighing those risks," said Mr Abbott.