Container shipping lines returning to Iran tread cautiously

MSC has become the latest firm to resume direct services to Iran. MSC said its first ship arrived at Iran’s major container port Bandar Abbas on Dec. 31 as part of weekly calls. Before that, MSC only provided shipments using smaller feeder ships via third parties that shipped containers to Iran from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.

In August last year, France’s CMA CGM and Evergreen of Taiwan were the first to resume direct services to Iran.

German’s Hapag Lloyd said it resumed cargo business with Iran in late November only via feeder ships from Jebel Ali.

“It is necessary for shippers to sign a letter of indemnity confirming that their business does not violate any still existing and relevant embargo regulations or sanctions,” a Hapag Lloyd spokesman said.
Fellow German’s Hamburg Sud said it provided services via a third party agent and awaited clarity on sanctions before a “possible direct call”.

BMI Research, part of ratings agency Fitch, forecast container throughput at Bandar Abbas would expand by 6.3 percent year-on-year in 2016 versus 6.5 percent in 2015 and a 29 percent contraction in 2012 should the nuclear agreement hold and sanctions be lifted.