Iran calls for EU help as ship­ping gi­ant pulls out

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France/LON­DON, (Reuters) - One of the world’s big­gest cargo ship­pers an­nounced on Sat­ur­day it was pulling out of Iran for fear of be­com­ing en­tan­gled in U.S. sanc­tions, and Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani de­manded that Euro­pean coun­tries to do more to off­set the U.S. mea­sures.

The an­nounce­ment by France’s CMA CGM that it was quit­ting Iran deals a blow to Tehran’s ef­forts to per­suade Euro­pean coun­tries to keep their com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Iran de­spite the threat of new Amer­i­can sanc­tions.

Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive an agree­ment with world pow­ers to curb its nu­clear pro­gramme. U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump aban­doned the agree­ment in May and has an­nounced new sanc­tions on Tehran. Wash­ing­ton has or­dered all coun­tries to stop buy­ing Ira­nian oil by Novem­ber and for­eign firms to stop do­ing busi­ness there or face U.S. black­lists.

Euro­pean pow­ers which still sup­port the nu­clear deal say they will do more to en­cour­age their busi­nesses to re­main en­gaged with Iran. But the prospect of be­ing banned in the United States ap­pears to be enough to per­suade Euro­pean com­pa­nies to keep out.

For­eign min­is­ters from the five re­main­ing sig­na­tory coun­tries to the nu­clear deal — Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, China and Rus­sia — of­fered a pack­age of eco­nomic mea­sures to Iran on Fri­day but Tehran said they did not go far enough.

“Euro­pean coun­tries have the po­lit­i­cal will to main­tain eco­nomic ties with Iran based on the JCPOA (the nu­clear deal), but they need to take prac­ti­cal mea­sures within the time limit,” Rouhani said on Sat­ur­day on his of­fi­cial web­site.

CMA CGM, which ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions op­er­ates the world’s third largest con­tainer ship­ping fleet with more than 11 per­cent of global ca­pac­ity, said it would halt ser­vice for Iran as it did not want to fall foul of the rules, given its large pres­ence in the United States.

“Due to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, we have de­cided to end our ser­vice for Iran,” CMA CGM chief Rodolphe Saade said dur­ing an eco­nomic con­fer­ence in the south­ern French city of Aix-en-Provence.

“Our Chi­nese com­peti­tors are hes­i­tat­ing a lit­tle, so maybe they have a dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ship with Trump, but we ap­ply the rules,” Saade said.

The ship­ping mar­ket leader, A.P. Moller-Maersk of Den­mark, al­ready an­nounced in May it was pulling out of Iran.

Some Ira­nian of­fi­cials have threat­ened to block oil ex­ports from the Gulf in re­tal­i­a­tion for U.S. ef­forts to re­duce Ira­nian oil sales to zero. Rouhani him­self made a veiled threat along those lines in re­cent days, say­ing there could be no oil ex­ports from the re­gion if Iran’s were shut.

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