UK's competition watchdog unites with global counterparts to probe shipping price 'collusion'

Fri 18 Feb 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News


The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is teaming up with fellow competition bodies in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to detect and investigate collusion between suppliers or shipping groups to hike prices.

Agencies in the 'Five Eyes' nations  the name given to an intelligence alliance consisting of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ that dates back to the Second World War  have received “multiple complaints” from businesses about supply chains, including soaring shipping fees. 

Shipping companies have posted a second year of record profits due to post-pandemic demand and supply chain disruption, as previously reported in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update.

Companies are facing costs than can be five times pre-pandemic levels or more.

Broad remit

According to the Guardian, the group’s remit is broad, covering sectors including retail, healthcare and agriculture.

It is made up of the US Department of Justice, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau and the New Zealand Commerce Commission

The group will “meet regularly to develop and share intelligence to detect and investigate suspected anti-competitive behaviour and collusion”.

CMA executive director of enforcement, Michael Grenfell, said: “These are global issues that are best addressed together. With support and intelligence from partner agencies across the world, we can step in and take enforcement action if we find evidence of anti-competitive behaviour taking place.” 

Possible fines

UK businesses found to be colluding could be fined up to 10% of global turnover and directors could be disqualified or face criminal prosecution.

In autumn, MakeUK, the trade body which represents manufacturers, called on CMA to examine rocketing transport goods can be justified, the Telegraph reported.