Ashdod Port fined NIS 9 million for blocking car import competition

The Antitrust Authority says the port company providing specially-tailored discounts to individual vehicle importers and punished others.

Port of Ashdod (photo credit: REUTERS)
Port of Ashdod
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Antitrust Authority made the decision to fine the Ashdod Port Company NIS 9 million for abusing its monopoly status as the principle off-loading site for vehicle shipments.
By providing specially tailored discounts to individual vehicle importers – and then by punishing importers that did not meet certain predetermined targets – the Ashdod Port Company has damaged the Haifa Port Company’s ability to compete in the sector, the Antitrust Authority said on Tuesday. In addition to imposing the NIS 9m. fine on the company itself, the authority is also for the first time fining the senior port officials – the CEO and vice president from the relevant time period – some NIS 20m. personally. The authority made its decision on Monday.
In contracts with car importers, the Ashdod Port set individual goals with each firm for the years 2010-2014, regarding their projected volume of imports for that period, a statement from the Antitrust Authority explained. The port then granted retroactive discounts to the importers subject to meeting their previously established targets. Importers that failed to meet these goals did not receive their discounts, the statement continued.
Meanwhile, in order for the Haifa Port Company to be able to attract some shipments without causing importers to lose the amounts that would have been discounted in Ashdod, the northern port was forced to promise importers compensation for any losses they incurred by shipping to Haifa, according to the Antitrust Authority.
The Ashdod Port Company thereby “created a barrier to competition” and also “damaged the freedom of choice of the importers,” the statement said.
Among the affected importers were Delek Motors Ltd.
(importer of Mazda, Ford, BMW and Mini Cooper); Union Motors (Toyota), Colmobil Corp. (Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Geely), Carasso Motors Ltd. (Renault, Nissan, Infiniti, Ssangyong and Kawasaki) and David Lubinski Ltd. (Peugeot, Citroën and MG).
In response to the Antitrust Authority’s decision, the Ashdod Port Company said the firm believes “the antitrust commissioner erred in declaring the Ashdod Port a monopoly in the car industry.”
“This decision arouses a serious feeling about eagerness toward imposing sanction, at any cost,” the company said.
“The company believes that the commissioner’s conclusions are fundamentally misguided, in light of the existing competition in the car industry between the different ports.”