Ports and transport
The ports of the Netherlands are key drivers of the Dutch economy. In these ports, goods are imported, stored, processed, and redistributed. Companies that operate in these ports work together a lot. This collaboration is indeed necessary if they want to process goods quickly and efficiently, and to transport them from A to B. However, collaborations can also go too far. For example, if companies no longer compete fairly by making agreements on the price that they will charge their customers, or if they divide the market amongst themselves.
Competition in the ports sector
ACM would like to see businesses that are active in ports compete fairly with one another. Healthy competition will result in a flourishing sector, and it will create innovation. This will increase the competitiveness of Dutch businesses. Dutch ports could lose their lead over other ports if these ports were able to process goods more cheaply and in more innovative ways. By competing fairly, Dutch ports are better able to cope with competition from international ports.
ACM's role in ports
Ports and Transport will again feature on the 2018-2019 ACM Agenda. This topic is an ongoing priority. A 2016 study conducted by the VU University Amsterdam and commissioned by ACM showed that businesses in the ports sector were insufficiently aware of the basic rules on fair competition. Besides detecting violations committed by businesses, ACM therefore also seeks to increase awareness of these rules. For example, ACM sent letters and flyers to businesses that are active in ports, as well as to other port-related businesses, explaining the basic rules. ACM also developed a ‘cartel test’. Using this test, port businesses can assess their risk of violating competition rules. Over the past few years, ACM attended and organized (or co-organized) various seminars on ports with the goal of opening a dialogue with the ports sector. In these discussions, knowledge of and compliance with competition rules were addressed, but also thereto-related challenges that the ports are facing. Businesses can contact ACM for informal advice in case of any uncertainties regarding the application of competition rules.
Results from the consultation on ports and transport
For two weeks, ACM asked everyone to share indications about the ports and transport sector on the dedicated website for the online discussion (denkmee.acm.nl). We also invited everyone to leave comments via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We received 1 comment on the dedicated website denkmee.acm.nl. It concerned the importance of integrity in the ports sector. ACM was asked to raise this matter in its talks with port businesses.
ACM has been engaged in a dialogue with the ports sector for some time now. This is how we seek to ensure that port businesses have a thorough knowledge of competition rules, and that they will comply with these rules. To that end, ACM, together with trade associations and port businesses, is developing e-learning modules explaining competition rules.
Discussions with the ports sector will continue in 2018, including discussions with port businesses in large ports, trade associations, and port undertakings.
Over the next few years, ACM will focus on:
- Providing education to businesses on competition rules;
- Investigating violations of competition rules;
- Structurally expanding the knowledge of and increasing compliance with competition rules.
We encourage port companies to give competition a higher priority within their organizations. One way to do so is to have employees follow the e-learning modules on competition, which were developed together with ACM.