The Ocean Alliance, comprised of four major ocean cargo carriers, became a reality on Monday.
The Federal Maritime Commission had concluded its review of the proposed Ocean Alliance on Friday, giving its approval and allowing for the alliance to begin operations.
The FMC said this came after an exhaustive review process that thoroughly examined all aspects of the proposed agreement to assure that competition in the ocean transportation industry would not suffer.
The FMC said commissioners and staff extensively engaged filing counsel on a number of issues and took advantage of the opportunity allowed for under the law to issue a Request for Additional Information, which necessitates the filing of further documentation in support of the application.
The new alliance follows a recent industry pattern of mergers and formal and informal alliances throughout the ocean freight industry in an effort to lower costs and become more efficient in serving trade routes.
The FMC said agreement members are now permitted to share vessels, charter and exchange space on each other’s ships and enter into cooperative working arrangements in international trade lanes between the U.S. and ports in Asia, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean.
“The commission worked very hard to balance the needs of not only the Ocean Alliance applicants, but all other parties involved in the intermodal supply chain, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding competition in international ocean-borne common carriage, with the American shipping public foremost in mind. The agreement going into force represents a consensus of what will allow Ocean Alliance carriers to achieve efficiencies without harming the marketplace,” said FMC chairman Mario Cordero. “I applaud both commission staff and the filing parties for not only their hard work, but the professional manner in which they addressed matters raised during the review process.”
The alliance must be approved by regulators in Europe and China. Members have said they are looking to “go live” around April.