Forwarders get the push as carriers go direct

On January 1, Maersk and Hamburg Sud ceased to provide services to certain freight forwarders through named account contracts.

This will apply to logistics service providers in order to increase the carriers’ direct business with shippers who may prefer to use freight forwarders to take care of their logistics supply chain needs, according to Clecat, the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services.

“Whereas the ambition of Maersk to offer integrated services to shippers is not new and a commercial decision of its choice, this recent development is a clear step to sideline freight forwarders,” said director general Nicolette van der Jagt.

“There is some real concern that forwarders will no longer find space for their cargo in the new Maersk structure, unless they venture into the less favourable spot market.

Maersk and Hamburg Sud are not only refusing contracts from forwarders; on top of this they are approaching the very customers of those forwarders whose business they are now rejecting.”

Clecat is reviewing whether this discriminatory initiative is compliant with EU competition law.

With shipping lines trying to become integrators of container logistics, Van der Jagt warns against the consequences of a market where a few players manage complete supply chains.

“The current crisis has shown what can happen to prices and reliability if control remains in the hands of just a handful of companies.

“This should be a warning signal to the European Commission who so far have only facilitated the strategic choices of carriers towards vertical integration and carriers’ joint coordination.”