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EghtesadOnline: French shipping group CMA CGM has decided to pull out of Iran following the US administration’s decision to renew sanctions on companies operating in the country, its chief executive said on Saturday.

“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 was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He added that his company’s cooperation agreement with local Iranian partner Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines had been suspended and that the company did not want to fall foul of the rules given their large presence in the United States, according to Financial Tribune.

The announcement by CMA CGM is at odds with European countries’ efforts to offer economic benefits to Iran to offset the new US sanctions.

Iran says it needs Europe to do more to keep alive the agreement with world powers signed in 2015, stipulating a relief from sanctions for Iran over its nuclear program in return for the country to limit the scope of its atomic works, which Tehran categorically maintains were of peaceful civilian nature only.

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 still support the nuclear deal and say they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran. But, according to Reuters, 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 to compensate for US sanctions that begin taking effect in August, but Tehran said the package did not go far enough.

“European countries have the political will to maintain economic ties with Iran based on the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the formal name of the nuclear deal], but they need to take practical measures within the time limit,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday on his official website.

CMA CGM, according to the United Nations, operates the world’s third largest container shipping fleet with more than 11% of global capacity.

The shipping company called at Shahid Rajaee, Iran’s biggest container port at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz, in August 2016 after years of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The company teamed up with IRISL to share vessel capacity and jointly operate routes and marine container terminals. Later, it launched a Tehran office, appointing CMA CGM Pars as its new agency in Iran as of May 1, 2017.

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


US sanctions CMA CGM Iran Operations Shipping Firm