EVERGREEN SAYS RIVALS MISSTATE BEER RATES

EVERGREEN SAYS RIVALS MISSTATE BEER RATES

Evergreen Marine Corp. accused other ocean carriers Friday of leaking to the press information about Evergreen rate and service contracts with major beer shippers in the trans-Atlantic trades.

A statement from the Taipei, Taiwan-based carrier charged that some trans- Atlantic ship lines "have anonymously released incorrect information about rates and clients in an attempt to discredit Evergreen."The Journal of Commerce reported last month that Evergreen, the world's largest operator of containerships, had signed service contracts with two leading beer sellers at rates 10 percent below prevailing rates. Evergreen Friday disputed that percentage figure, saying the contract rate of $1,200 a 40-foot container offered to Beck & Co., Bremen, West Germany, and Van Munching Co., the New York importer of Heineken, was only $20 below the rate for beer published in Evergreen's tariff last year.

Owen Wu, executive vice president of Evergreen Marine Corp. (Taiwan), said the contract rates are "in a reasonable range for a guarantee of more than double the cargo volume commitment." The carrier's statement noted that many businesses, including Evergreen competitors, give volume discounts to major customers.

Harold G. Holden, the executive director of two carrier groups that set collective rates for trans-Atlantic shipments, said, "I can understand why Evergreen is upset. I cannot see who would be served by leaking information" about Evergreen contracts and about discussions between Evergreen and other ship lines.

Mr. Holden challenged interpretive material that had appeared in The Journal of Commerce based on information from sources not publicly identified.

Informal talks that the carrier groups held in March failed to reach agreement on a proposed plan to stabilize rates by limiting trans-Atlantic shipping capacity.

Those talks involved members of the USA-North Europe Rate Agreement and the North Europe-USA Rate Agreement - the two groups that Mr. Holden heads - along with Evergreen and three other carriers that don't belong to the rate- setting groups.

The Evergreen beer contracts "had nothing to do with the success or failure of the stabilization discussions at all," Mr. Holden said in an interview Friday. The Journal of Commerce's stories published March 15, March 16 and March 22 drew such a connection.

The stories quoted unnamed carrier executives, as well as one named shipper, who said the beer contracts had raised the ire of other carriers against Evergreen. The stories also reported Evergreen had objected to a key plank in the proposed stabilization plan, involving capacity limitations and pooling of revenues among the participating lines.

In its statement Friday, Evergreen "reiterated its contention that stabilizing the trade would require something other than instituting capacity caps or pooling, both of which appear contentious to the EEC (European Community) Competitive Practices Division and the European Shippers' Councils."