Sanctions against Iran caused many sections including classification societies, P&I club, banking system, and overseas offices in shipping industry to face problems, MANA correspondent reported.
Sanctions were also carefully designed to damage Iranian shipping in particular mainly because it is an international task which deals globally. On the other hand, foreign incoming ships encountered insurance difficulties to anchor in Iranian waters.
Through sanctions' removals, Iranian ships could operate under Iranian flag with no restrictions after four years and step into international trade. The shipping industry moved forward so successfully that Hasan Rouhani, the Iranian President, recalled it as the example of the satisfying movements in post sanction era. In fact, while 5+1 talks were still ongoing, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) projected resolutions including updated market studies, fleet expansion and the like for post sanction era.
IRISL in this regard managed a roundtable to evaluate the practical results of JCPOA through the comments from Mr. Rastad, deputy of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), Capt. Amirsaman Torabizade, the technical and trading manager in IRISL, Aliakbar Qonji, managing director of Khazar Shipping Company, Mohammad Reza Qaderi, managing director of Bulk Shipping Company, Ahmad Tafazoli, managing director of Container Shipping Company, Seyedreza Seyedalizade, managing director of IRISL Ship Management Company and Hussein Abbasnejad, the deputy of director general in maritime affairs in PMO.
MANA: what are the fruits of post sanction era for Iranian shipping industry?
Rastad: one of the main handiworks of JCPOA is facilitated trading which accordingly affected shipping industry positively. In next stage, we also operated with Iranian flag in international waters and intend to resume our share in global market.
It is worth noting that despite the absence of international classification societies during the sanction; Iranian ships could meet the required standards and anchor in European port right after implementation of JCPOA.
Classification societies and international association of classification society (IACS) returned to Iran and their service is now available to all the Iranian ships. In other words, by the removal of restrictions on classification and insurance, the shipping cycle including ship repair and spare parts supplies which were mostly provided by private sector are accordingly revived.
Furthermore, various shipping services from all over the world resumed operation in Iranian ports and for the time being, there is no boundary for the liners to commute to Iran. I hasten to add that the Iranian classification societies delivered suitable services during the sanctions and now that there is no restriction on their international counterparts to step in Iran market, we have planned to pave the way for the international parties to cooperate with their Iranian counterparts in post sanctions era and finally be able to be a member of international societies.
Torabizadeh: through JCPOA, the sanctions were removed gradually. As mentioned before, classification societies were one of the first sections to work freely after JCPOA and now we are cooperating with these classification societies under supervision of Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO). We have managed to start information transfer and several training sessions through these classification societies in a short time after JCPOA.
Furthermore, P&I club is supported by secondary P&I clubs which are mostly American and this made some hurdles to work with. However, the P&I clubs staged to insure Iranian fleet and this automatically forced the secondary American companies to follow them or stop cooperating by the end of the fiscal year.
Although there are some minor problems in banking systems which are being resolved, Iranian fleet is operating properly. Today our ships commute to European ports with no restriction and two new services to South Korea and Japan have been settled. We could not operate in South America thanks to LC problems and today the service started working. It translates to the fact that although during the sanctions against Iran the only active services were South East Asia and Africa, we are now settling new services all over the world including Japan and India to Iraq.
Qaderi: since technology and knowledge advances fast especially when the size, speed and fuel of the new ships are in the picture, we need to undergo drastic changes. For instance, before the sanctions against Iran, we used to purchase and operate 50.000 tones which were considered modern while these ships are nowadays outdated in shipping industry and were replaced with ships with capacity of 62.000 tones. This fact requires tough competition with the rivals. However, we managed to import 1.5m tones of basic bulk including soybean and corn in 5 months after the sanctions removals without any restriction and immediately update the rates to global standards.
Moreover, general cargo services are now regularly operating and the network of overseas offices is expanding to elevate our position in international ranking and retake our share in global market.
Seyedalizade: we faced problems regarding ship repair during the sanction against Iran. For instance, Shell and Total comapnies stepped out of Iran through the sanctions and we faced problems providing lubricants although part of the demand was supplied by Iranian firms. However, the international companies are able to cooperate with Iranian powers and provide the required supplies. The cooperation includes classification and technical support along with technology transfer and fortunately the cooperation has attracted the foreign parties greatly.
Abbasnejad: I hasten to add that before the sanctions against Iran, seven classification societies functioned in Iran while this mounted to 12 in post sanction era which are regularly providing service to Iranian ships through cooperation with their Iranian counterparts.
Tafazoli: we are moving forward so fast in post sanction era to settle regular services to Europe and resume South Korea service. I hasten to add we operate the only active service in Middle East to Incheon port. We are active in the shipping services to East of Africa directly and to West of Africa indirectly through Europe. Settling Iraq (Umm Qasr port) to India service also was one of the fruits of JCPOA and we hope to overcome the tough competition in this area and especially in lucrative Iraq market.
We intend to start services to Tunisia and Al Jazeerah and resume operations in Mediterranean region including Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, increase operations in Germany and Italy through active offices. Furthermore, despite the political hurdles the service to Egypt was activated and it is currently functioning.
Ghonji: we intend to focus on CIS region in post sanction era through working on shared services and take suitable share in the respective market. Italy and Germany are our main targets in Europe to work in post sanction era.
MANA: What are the plans in the realm of ports in post sanction era?
Rastad: development plans in PMO never stopped to be conducted during the sanctions and after sanctions removals, thanks to more interactions the implementation of the plans were accelerated. For example, we project to develop phase 2 and 3 in Shahid Rajaei port. In addition, we intend to compete strongly with our counterparts in the realm of port operations and deliver satisfactory services in a short time. Makran hinterlands and Chabahar port are also our main targets. To work on bunkering, we set a conference and evaluated the potentials and capacities and staged to pave the way for the private sector to enter.
Seyed Alizadeh: the average age of our fleet is estimated to be 15 years which is not satisfactory with regards to international standards and we need to renovate the fleet
Tafazoli: it is worth noting that IRISL is considered one of the most well-known Iranian brands beyond the borders. In other words, IRISL is considered an Iranian McDonald’s and therefore, we intend to renovate and develop it through native and non-native capacities.