Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant CMA CGM quits over US sanctions fears

The world's third largest shipping container group, the French-owned CMA CGM, has decided to withdraw from Iran over the threat of US sanctions, its chief executive said on July 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 07 July 2018
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Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant CMA CGM quits over US sanctions fears

  • The announcement by France's CMA CGM that it was quitting Iran deals a blow to Tehran's efforts to persuade European countries to offer economic benefits to offset the new US sanctions.
  • Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive an agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear programme.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France/LONDON: One of the world's biggest cargo shippers announced on Saturday it was pulling out of Iran for fear of becoming entangled in US sanctions, and 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 offer economic benefits to offset the new US sanctions.
Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive an agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear programme. 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 which still support the nuclear deal say they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran. But 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 nuclear deal), but they need to take practical measures within the time limit," Rouhani said on Saturday on his official website.
CMA CGM, which according to the United Nations 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 United States.
"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 said.


Foreign investment in Bahrain rising sharply, authorities say

Updated 33 min 33 sec ago
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Foreign investment in Bahrain rising sharply, authorities say

DUBAI: New foreign direct investment in Bahrain more than doubled in the first nine months of 2018 as the kingdom marketed itself as a base for companies to access the region, especially Saudi Arabia, data released on Tuesday showed.
Investment commitments between January and September jumped 138 percent from a year ago to a record $810 million from 76 firms, said the Economic Development Board, an investment promotion agency. That compared to $733 million in all of 2017, and was over five times the amount of FDI in 2015.
The rise in FDI is good news for Bahrain’s balance of payments, which has been under pressure as the kingdom runs fiscal and current account deficits fueled by low oil prices.
The central bank’s net foreign reserves hit a one-year low of 499.4 million dinars ($1.32 billion) in July, although they rebounded to 734.2 million dinars last month.
Manufacturing and logistics accounted for most foreign investment in the first nine months of this year, the EDB said. Some companies are locating operations in Bahrain to take advantage of reforms in Saudi Arabia, which aims to develop non-oil industries such as mining, light manufacturing and tourism.
Bahrain also wants to become a center for financial technology; last year it created a “regulatory sandbox” allowing companies in the field to experiment without facing normal regulatory constraints.
This year it established a $100 million fund of funds to support technology start-ups across the region, which it hopes will attract venture capital firms to Bahrain.