European Commission answers European Parliament on extremely high container prices and impact on consumer prices

The recently published Eurostat figures mark a record high 5.1% inflation in the Eurozone in January 2022. In the Netherlands, inflation has even climbed to 6.4% – the highest level in almost 40 years. Dutch and international newspapers are reporting sharply rising container prices, which are having a knock-on effect on consumer prices. All the while, the container ship industry raked in record profits of over EUR 150 billion in 2021.

In this regard, Tom Berendsen (PPE) and Annie Schreijer-Pierik (PPE), Members of the European Parliament, asked the European Commission:
1. Can the Commission provide information and figures to illustrate the extent to which steeply rising container prices are being reflected in European consumer prices?
2. How does the Commission gain an insight into the agreements made by container shipping companies as a result of the exemptions from normal competition protection provided by the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER)?
3. Despite the Commission’s previous response to written questions of 6 October 2021(7) and 23 July 2021(8), in the light of current inflation rates and the profit margins of these companies, what is the Commission’s view of the exemptions from normal competition protection afforded to container shipping companies by the CBER?

Answer given by Executive Vice-President Vestager on behalf of the European Commission

There is limited evidence regarding estimates of pass-through of container liner shipping costs on consumer prices.
Transport costs’ share in the total production costs of manufacturers is in general limited and varies across goods. Initial estimates place the share of transport costs in product prices well below five percent for most goods. It reaches higher levels for products like wood or oil, which are generally not carried in containers, for which the share increases up to 15% and 25% respectively.

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