Despite targeting nuclear program, sanctions affect Iran's food imports
Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 12 /Trend S.Isayev
Despite the fact that International sanctions from U.S. and EU target Iran's nuclear program, the restrictions also affect Islamic Republic's food imports, Reuters reported.
A lot of Iran's imports, including food and consumer goods, arrive on container, bulker and other ships, but the number of vessels calling at its ports has reduced by more than a half this year, because of the tightening sanctions.
United States and European Union suspect Iran of working towards making a nuclear weapon, while Tehran, denying this, says its program is only for peaceful purposes.
A few days ago U.S. President Barack Obama has signed an executive order that carries out new sanctions against Iran that Congress approved and that he signed this summer, said the NSC statement on the White House website.
While Tehran continues to claim its work is peaceful, the restrictions and trade measures hurt shipping badly.
An increasing number of Western companies, especially those in shipping and related businesses, are pulling out of trade with Iran due to the complexities of deals and tougher banking restrictions as the sanctions take hold - and out of fear of losing business elsewhere.
Data from maritime intelligence publisher IHS Fairplay showed the overall number of vessels calling at Iranian ports in the year to early October was 980. That figure for more than three quarters of this year compares with 2,740 ships for the whole of 2011 and 3,407 for 2010, Reuters reported.
Of that total, the number of visits by container ships - which carry consumer goods ranging from foodstuffs and household items to clothing and toys - was 86 so far this year, compared with 273 for the whole of 2011 and 378 in 2010.
Only eight refrigerated cargo vessels carrying fresh produce including bananas called at Iranian ports so far this year, down from 16 in 2011 and 36 in 2010, the IHS Fairplay data showed. Even fishing trawlers unloading their catch have slumped to five from 14 last year and 20 in 2010.
Starved of dollars as the sanctions curb oil exports, Iran bought large amounts of grain earlier this year using other currencies.
Nevertheless dry bulk ships, which can carry cereals and commodities such as coal and iron ore, have also made fewer port calls with 100 arrivals so far compared with 352 in 2011 and 406 in 2010.
In July, Iran began to implement the so-called "economy of resistance", part of which was to start stockpiling 24 emergency-first food products.