Price Fixing: 23 Shipping Firms To Pay $81m Fine


The antitrust regulator in South Korea has sanctioned 23 domestic and foreign container shipping companies for fixing maritime freight rates.

On 18 January 2022, the Fair-Trade Commission (KFTC) said it has imposed a fine of KRW 96.2 billion (about $80.7 million) on Korean and foreign carriers along with corrective order.

The companies were reportedly involved in collusive conduct over the past fifteen years, unlawfully fixing higher freight rates on Korean-Southeast Asian sea routes. 

Specifically, twelve local and eleven foreign companies colluded to set the prices of container cargo services on Korean-Southeast Asian import and export routes 120 times between 2003 and 2018. According to KFTC, they collectively agreed on all freight rates, including the minimum level of the basic freight rate. 

The South Korean companies in question are Korea ShippingNamseong ShippingDongyeong ShippingDongjin Merchant MarineBeomju ShippingSM Merchant MarineHMMJanggeum Merchant Marine (Sinokor)Cheonkyung ShippingPan OceanHeung-A Line, and Heung-A Shipping


The foreign companies sanctioned by KFTC include Cheongri NavigationEvergreen Marine CorporationWan Hai LinesYangming Marine Transport CorporationSealand Maersk AsiaPacific International LinesNew Golden Sea Shipping (COSCO)Gold Star LineOrient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL)SITC, and TS Lines

In 2016 and 2017, the Fair Trade Commission also imposed penalties on a number of companies for LNG bid fixing and car carrier services antitrust law violations. 

KFTC is a ministerial-level central administrative organization and, under the authority of the South Korean Prime Minister, functions as a quasi-judiciary body.-World Maritime New