news no. 1
Issue: Where are we in Iran’s maritime boycott?
This is a key issue to anticipate what is going on in this regard. As a matter of fact the first step towards Iran’s maritime boycott was taken once EU imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran’s national flag carrier, IRISL by putting a ban on the right of berth of this shipping line alongside European ports. The next step was the boycott of Shahid Rajaee port, Iran’s major container port, by shipping lines, followed by P&I clubs refusing to cover any vessel, whether Iranian flag or other, carrying any oil, gas or petrochemical product of Iran. Consequently many of Iranian trade, be it export or import, had to take the way of Jebel Ali port at extraordinary financial burden to accede to ocean going vessels.
One major pretext to boycott Shahid Rajaee port was its container terminal operator whose name appeared on the sanction list of EU. No such pretext continues now to exist anymore as the container operation has been entrusted to another Co. by the port authority. On the other hand, the historic breakthrough agreement inked in Geneva between Iran and the group of 3 + 3 explicitly lifted the sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical, oil and gas sector. IRISL made it a step ahead by winning a lawsuit against EU Commission, but then was target of another undue sanction anew. Now the first Asian shipping line made its way to a direct call to this major Iranian port, while another Korean line was so far continuing to call at Bushire port. However since freight rates were higher to Bushire, this gesture was not that effective and fruitful as it was expected to be.
Maritime observers in Shib International foresee that within next two to three months remained till the six months deadline of Geneva agreement, one shall be witnessing the return of major Asian origin shipping lines, be it Korean, Chinese, H.K., or Arab, one after the other. There is speculation in the Iranian shipping circles that many agencies are looking for competent staff. After all, the three high ranking European liners who fill the first three world positions are still to receive the EU green light to join this movement. At any event, the coming back of these shipping lines, shall all but revitalize the competition and leave a positive impact on actual freight rate levels. Our forecast is some 50% drop in current sea freight cost.