The Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER), which allows carriers to operate jointly and engage in certain types of operational cooperation, is set to expire in April 2024. The European Commission is examining whether the CBER, which was introduced to promote the formation of consortia and improve vessel utilisation, continues to provide “EU added value” following supply chain disruptions and freight rate increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A team of CRA economists led by Raphaël De Coninck and Mikaël Hervé was retained by the World Shipping Council to conduct an economic analysis, with the aim of identifying the main drivers behind recent increases in shipping rates and testing for any relationship between the presence of consortia and the rate increases. In their expert report, using both descriptive data assessment and econometrics, they find that the disruptions are unrelated to the presence of consortia, instead attributing the increased rates to the COVID pandemic. Specifically, bunker costs and demand for shipping increased, while available capacity decreased due to port closures, port congestions, and labour shortages.
The report is available here.