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.


China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpy

Updated 34 min 38 sec ago
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China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpy

  • ‘Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement’
  • China has been grappling with slowing economic growth as well as the fallout of trade frictions with the US

SHANGHAI: China’s automobile sales in January tumbled 15.8 percent from a year earlier, the country’s top auto industry association said on Monday, as the world’s largest auto market hits the skids with the slump in sales extending to the seventh month.
China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in an emailed statement to Reuters that sales dropped to 2.37 million vehicles last month. This follows a 13 percent drop in December and a 14 percent fall in November.
“Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement. We estimate that February wholesales will also drop sharply” said Xu Haidong, CAAM assistant secretary general.
“The reason for the sales drop is still the slowing overall economy, and consumption decline in small and medium-sized cities” Xu said.
China has been grappling with slowing economic growth as well as the fallout of trade frictions with the United States, forces which contributed to its auto market contracting for the first time in more than two decades last year.
Beijing is now trying to persuade consumers to loosen their purse strings and has pledged to provide subsidies to boost rural sales of some vehicles and purchases of new energy vehicles.
“Q1 sales were good last year, so this year the industry expects to have negative growth in the first quarter” Yale Zhang, head of consultancy AutoForesight, said, but he predicts sales to gradually pick up in the next three quarters.
Industry executives also say China’s car sales in January and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers hold off on their car purchasing decisions around the festival.
The holiday’s dates change annually but tend to occur in either month. It took place in the first week of February this year.
China’s sales of new energy vehicles, however, continued to buck the trend, totaling 95,700 in January, a year-on-year increase of 140 percent, CAAM said.