IRISL managing director: Sanctions damage shipping industry

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct.21/ Trend G.Mehdi/

Sanctions have badly affected the Iranian shipping industry, the managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, Mohammad-Hossein Dajmar, said in an interview with Jahan-e Sanat newspaper on Sunday.

According to him, IRISL owns some 165 ships, 20 of which are not in operation (lay out).

A number of the ships are sailing under the flags of other countries, he said, adding that the IMO Number of a ship is fixed and identifying the owner of a certain ship is not a sophisticated issue. "This is important that in many transactions, the other side is not after identifying the IMO Number," he added.

"The United Nations has not banned activity of our ships. This issue is just pursued by U.S. and Europe. They are after stopping our ships of sailing. The UN has just emphasized not to use the shipping line for nuclear and military purposes. Of course, our ships have nothing to do with such activities."

Referring to the losses of IRISL as a result of the sanctions, he said: "We can not sail across European waters with changing flags, because European officials monitor IMO Number. So, we do not take a risk, because they will not allow ships to berth at their ports. This is while after the Islamic Revolution, our ships went everywhere except U.S. and Israel."

The newspaper asked him: You established companies overseas with no trace of IRISL in order to proceed with their activities. How many of the companies have been identified? He replied: We were after expanding activities all over the world and not receiving services just from local companies. We cooperated with agents we used to work with and boosted activities in places where it was economically justified. Sanctions changed the situation. We were not after working in disguise. The affiliated companies were registered with the prefix IRISL, showing they were belonged to IRISL. But, we take this as an advantage to register companies by local individuals.

According to him, once the U.S. market was lost and the same is being occurred today. Some one million tons of IRISL capacity is out of service, he said.

If the sanctions continue and the government does not support the national shipping line, the situation will become worse, he said, adding that the government owns a 20-percent stake in the shipping line and the rest belongs to the public, the Justice Shares, or retirement funds. The government should plan to make for the losses, but it does not so and even block foreign currency incomes.

"Such policies lead to shipping to be uneconomical in the country. Some enterprises are in the red as a result of the sanctions. So, officials should think about the issue. IRISL gained 6 rials profit per share in the current year, but the shipping industry lost 200 rials per share. This issue makes shareholder to sell their stocks. Last year, we experienced a loss of around 100 rials."

The shipping industry has been a main target of the sanctions. We have been incurred huge losses to date. If the pressures are escalated, the company will face bankruptcy, he said.

The issue is not confined to us. All the economic sectors are grappling with the problem. A solution should be eventually found for the problem at last, he noted.

He touched on the P&I insurance, which is specialized in the shipping industry, saying that this type of insurance did not exist in Iran earlier. A limited number of countries supplied the insurance services to the world. Costs and incomes are important in economic activities. Using the mentioned insurance was economically justified for us. But, canceling the insurance services forced us to establish domestic companies. The EU has imposed sanctions on insuring ships of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The government has deposited $1 billion to the Central Bank and uses it as a support for domestic insurances. They are active in Asia, Latin America and Africa, but not in Europe, Australia, and North America.

In August last year, a serious cyber attack hit the shipping industry and damaged all the data related to rates, loading, cargo number, date and place. But, the data was recovered.

Huge losses were imposed as a result of the cyber attack, leading to disrupt in operations and sending cargoes to wrong destinations, he concluded.

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