Japanese transport ministry puts conferences under critical review
Japan, the last major country to defend beleaguered shipping conferences, has now decided to critically review the rate-fixing cartels, delighting the country's Fair Trade Commission and distressing its shipping lines, reports London's Financial Times.Protested an MOL spokesman: "If [shipping conferences] were abolished, only a few companies would control the shipping industry. The system has contributed to market stability in the long term." Fair Trade Commission director Shuichi Sugajhisa said: "This is a tremendous step for us. A few years ago we could not have even imagined that the transport ministry would begin such a review. If the EU had not moved, Japan would not have thought about moving." The European Union has moved to ban the conference system while Japan's Ministry of Transport has defended the system and has long exempted the shipping cartels from rules governing price-fixing in other industries.