Maersk Line Pulls Plug on Iran Port Calls

Maersk Line ship

Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company by volume, has ended port calls to Iran saying that the company’s limited business in the sanctioned country does not justify the possibility of losing business elsewhere, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

“Maersk Line has ceased to call in Iran,” a spokeswoman for the unit of Danish group A.P. Moller-Maersk said in a statement obtained by Reuters. “This is a pragmatic decision based on an assessment of balancing the benefits of doing limited business in Iran against the risk of damaging business opportunities elsewhere, particularly the U.S.” the statement added.

“To date, Maersk Line’s business in Iran has involved transporting foodstuffs and other goods, for example vehicles, for the benefit of the general civilian population. It is with regret that it is ceasing these activities.”

“Maersk Line will maintain a dormant business entity in Iran and will look to resume business should the sanctions against the regime be eased.”

In June 2011, Maersk suspended shipments to Iranian ports managed by the sanctioned Tidewater Middle East Co., leaving just the small northern Iranian container port of Bushehr. The spokeswoman said Maersk Line halted loading cargo bound for Bushehr on September 30 and stopped loading outbound cargo from Bushehr on September 24, according to Reuters.

“Following its interim business decision to suspend its work in Iran, Maersk has finally made the right decision, and fully ceased its shipping there,” said Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the U.S.-based pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran UANI. “As a result, Iran will now be even more isolated from the rest of the world, as the world’s largest shipping company has declared it closed for business.”

“Iran’s shipping industry is in free-fall as insurers, classification societies, and shipping companies cease their business with Iran as the regime continues to defy the international community’s diplomatic efforts to end its illicit nuclear program,” added Ambassador Wallace. “The few shipping companies that continue doing business in Iran are complicit in the regime’s unlawful actions and should pull out immediately.”

In recent months, Iran has had all the major classification societies – including Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, the Korean Register of Shipping, and ClassNK, among others – stop their certification of Iranian vessels.