Mon, Jul 09, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant pulls out

Reuters, AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France and LONDON

One of the world’s biggest cargo shippers on Saturday announced that it was pulling out of Iran for fear of becoming entangled in US sanctions, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani demanded that European countries to do more to offset the US 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 US sanctions.

Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive an agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear program.

US 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 US blacklists.

European powers that still support the nuclear deal have said they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran.

However, the prospect of being banned in the US 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 his official Web site.

CMA CGM, which according to the UN 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 US.

“Due to the Trump administration, we have decided to end our service for Iran,” CMA CGM chief Rodolphe Saade said at 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.

A.P. Moller-Maersk of Denmark in May announced that it was pulling out of Iran.

Last month, French automaker PSA Group suspended its joint venture activities in Iran, and French oil major Total said it held little hope of receiving a US waiver to continue with a multibillion-dollar gas project in the country.

Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne on Saturday said the company had been left with little choice.

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