The Brazilian Association of Port Terminals (ABTP) – a group representing 73 port companies across 235 terminals in Brazil – filed a legal request at Brazil’s Administrative Economic Defense Council (CADE) to investigate Maersk and MSC’s impact on the port market. ABTP accuses the two companies of abusing their domination in the maritime transport of containers business to favor their own terminals, raising costs and reducing options for the flow of cargo in Brazil.
The ABTP document highlights that, in Brazil, MSC and Maersk are responsible for 79% of containers (53% directly and another 26% through commercial agreements) transported along the Brazilian coast. According to them, the control of the flow of cargo is done in such a way that the seven port terminals owned by the two companies would be favored to the detriment of others, even in cases in which other ports are closer to the origin/destination of the cargo.
Today, the terminals controlled by MSC and Maersk – three in Santa Catarina and one in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, and Ceará each – see almost half of the country’s movement of containerized cargo.
“The situation should still get worse because the two companies must reach the eighth container terminal, at Estaleiro Atlântico Sul (in Pernambuco),” highlights Jesualdo Conceição Silva, president of ABTP, in an interview with Farol Econômico. Brazil also has 19 other terminals that do not belong to the two companies, called “white flags” in the port sector. According to the president of ABTP, there is a considerable risk of a generalized crash if nothing is done.
ABTP’s president fears that, in more extreme situations, the 2M alliance’s market policy will end up making regions where the two companies do not have terminals less economically attractive.
“If you have a factory in Bahia that needs inputs that come transported in containers or that needs to ship production in these metallic boxes, problems frequently arrive, making operations less competitive. Pressure may lead to the crash of these region’s ports and the companies that rely on them,” argues him. “More than 95% of our foreign trade is done via ports. We are talking about national sovereignty here.”
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