AUSTRALIA MAINTAINS TIGHT CONTROL OVER WHICH LINES HAUL BEEF TO US

AUSTRALIA MAINTAINS TIGHT CONTROL OVER WHICH LINES HAUL BEEF TO US

Any major deregulation of beef shipments from Australia to the United States appears unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Strict control of shipping in the American meat trade is here to stay, an Australian shipping executive stated.He expressed the prevalent view of the Australian shipping industry following the decision by the Australian Meat and Livestock Corp. to continue the present regulated system at least through November 1989.

The corporation reversed a decision announced last September that it would abandon its traditional tight control over the selection of shipping lines able to carry Australian beef to the important U.S. market.

The AMLC controls the international marketing of most Australian beef. For many years, beef has been shipped from Australia to the United States only by carriers specifically designated by the corporation.

The AMLC has often been criticized for exercising monopoly control over shipping in this trade. There has been some support for the proposition that the corporation in effect conducts it own closed conference in the meat trade.

Shipping lines in the trade welcomed the decision to continue the practice.

The designated lines are almost unchanged from those that carried meat last year.

For the U.S. East Coast, the shipping lines are Cool Carriers, Pacific American Container Express, or PACE, Columbus Line, ABC Containerline and Australia New Zealand Direct Line (incorporating the Pacific Australia Direct Line).

Designated carriers for the U.S. West Coast are Yamashita Shinnihon (Y.S. Line), PACE, Columbus, EAC Lines, K Line and Knutzen.

EAC, K Line and Knutzen carry beef only to Australia's west coast ports.

Cool Carriers, a Swedish line, is the only carrier permitted to operate a breakbulk service. All other lines must carry the beef in containers.

This will be the third year that Cool Carriers, the world's largest operator of refrigerated vessels, will be in the trade.

But it will be the first year that Cool Carriers will not be restricted to receiving beef only from Australia's northern ports. The line can now pick up beef also from the larger southern ports.

The AMLC has long preferred to ship beef to the United States in containers. But it concedes there is a need to cater to the breakbulk market.

Cool reportedly offers a price advantage to shippers of about 19 percent.

Cool operates about 75 vessels around the world. Some 14 of these are engaged in trade between Pacific countries.

The AMLC has told all designated carriers that the maximum freight rate until the end of November 1988 must not be more than 14.4 percent above last year's rate.

The shipping companies have been told that the maximum rate will be increased by an additional 5 percent for the 12 months from Dec. 1, 1988.

Beef is an important export commodity from Australia to the United States. It accounts for nearly 70 percent of cargo by volume and almost 85 percent of freight revenue.

The United States is Australia's biggest beef market, and Australia supplies about half of all beef imported into the United States.

Australian beef exports to the United States during fiscal 1986-87 totaled 339,302 tons. The volume was 285,000 tons for the previous year.