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As China flexes its muscle, foreign companies quiver Add to ...

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When the world’s three biggest container shipping companies decided to pool their capacity, it seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.

A weakened global economy had reduced shipping volumes just as an influx of massive new container vessels started plying the busy Asia-Europe routes. The resulting excess capacity and lower prices left profits adrift in the doldrums and companies with a pressing need to reduce costs.

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