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Maersk, MSC Go Back to Drawing Board and Devise New Collaborative Alliance

Maersk and MSC have reacted to China's objections to the proposed P3 alliance by coming up with a new vessel sharing arrangement called 2M that they hope will be agreed by all regulatory authorities before the beginning of next year. Out has gone CMA CGM, in order to bring the agreement's market share down to more acceptable levels, and in has come a much simpler joint coordination committee to monitor the carriers' network on a daily basis.

The objective remains the same – namely to reduce costs by sweating assets more efficiently between Asia/Europe, Asia/US and Europe/US, but as port rotations and vessel sizes have not yet been clarified, it is not possible to say how their market shares will change, or their undeniable savings compare with that envisaged by P3.

Drewry’s analysis shows that on the Asia-North Europe trade route, Maersk and MSC currently have a 32 percent share of all effective westbound vessel capacity, which is more than the 30 percent market share threshold normally allowed under the European Union’s consortium regulation, so will require close scrutiny. Maersk currently provides 21.3 percent on its own, and MSC/CMA CGM provide another 21.2 percent through joint services shared fairly evenly, which would have given the P3 alliance a much bigger share of 42.5 percent. Only six weekly services are planned by 2M instead of nine, but the VSA will still be the trade lane’s largest.

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