U.S. reaffirms resolve to promote fair competition in shipping industry

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) on February 28 reaffirmed their continuing commitment to jointly enforcing competition laws and strengthening their cooperation to promote competition in the ocean freight transportation system.

The FMC and the Justice Department possess competition expertise unique to their respective agencies and have successfully worked together in the past. In July 2021, the working relationship between the FMC and the Department was formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 

The MOU established a framework for partnership between the FMC and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division that enhances cooperation in the enforcement of antitrust and competition laws, including the Shipping Act, including by facilitating information exchange between and among attorneys, economists and technical experts. The objectives of the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy will be supported by this continued partnership.

Building upon the July 2021 MOU, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Chairman Daniel B. Maffei today announced new steps the two agencies will take to strengthen this partnership. The Justice Department will provide the FMC with the support of attorneys and economists from the Antitrust Division for enforcement of violations of the Shipping Act and related laws. The FMC will provide the Antitrust Division with support and maritime industry expertise for Sherman Act and Clayton Act enforcement actions.

“The Justice Department will continue to aggressively enforce our antitrust laws – no matter the industry, no matter the company, and no matter the individual,” said Attorney General Garland. 

“Competition in the maritime industry is integral to lowering prices, improving quality of service, and strengthening supply chain resilience. Expanding joint enforcement partnerships like the partnership between the FMC and DOJ is one of our most powerful tools for promoting competition. Lawbreakers should know that the Justice Department will provide the Federal Maritime Commission all necessary litigation support as it pursues its mission of promoting competition in ocean shipping.”

“The Attorney General and I share both the priority of a competitive marketplace and a commitment to pursue enforcement actions when necessary,” said Chairman Maffei. “Our agencies have a history of cooperating to the benefit of the American consumer and this new support will help ensure that the working relationship will help both government entities in our shared goal of fair competition.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock/MAGNIFIER

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