Hong Kong to cut Iranian ships from register

Hong Kong to cut Iranian ships from register

Hong Kong will stop allowing 19 ships linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) from operating under its flag, a government letter showed, in the latest blow to Tehran's sanctions-hit global trade, Reuters reported.

A letter from the Hong Kong government's marine department (HKMD) dated November 9 and seen by Reuters showed the authority had given notice to the owners of the 19 ships.

Despite the move to de-flag Iranian ships, China continues to be the biggest taker of Iranian oil - a vital revenue earner for Tehran as it struggles with Western sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear program.

Hong Kong had been urged by U.S. pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) to end the flagging of 19 dry bulk ships, which the group said were owned, managed or operated by IRISL and its front companies.

"As it is of paramount importance to HKMD in safeguarding the quality of Hong Kong ships, HKMD has therefore taken action already in notifying the owners of these 19 ships for the closure of the registration in Hong Kong within 90 days beginning from the date of the notice being served," S.F. Wong, Hong Kong Shipping Register's general manager, said in the letter.

"Whether or not these 19 ships and the associated companies are acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, IRISL would be a question of fact."

IRISL officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

Tough sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have tightened the screws on Tehran, which relies on its shipping trade for imports including food, consumer and industrial goods.

Many foreign companies have pulled out for fear of losing business in the United States and due to the complexities of arranging deals that are exempt from sanctions.

IRISL, Iran's top cargo carrier, has been on a Western blacklist of sanctioned entities for years, accused of transporting weapons, which it denies.

The carrier, whose fleet includes dry bulker and container ships, has tried to dodge sanctions by changing its flags and setting up front companies, the U.S. Treasury and the EU have said.

The world's top 13 ship classification societies including the Korean Register of Shipping (KR), which provide certification vital for securing insurance and ports access, have pulled out of Iran, adding even more pressure on Tehran.

Wong said KR had confirmed to HKMD it would not conduct any survey or audit from January 1, 2013 on the 19 ships.

"Given KR has effectively ceased to provide services or support to the company for managing the Hong Kong ships, HKMD does have concern about the safety and the quality of these ships," Wong said in the letter.

A spokeswoman with the HKMD said on Monday that whenever there is evidence, such as a lack of certification, that the seaworthiness of any Hong Kong-registered ship could be in question, such a vessel may be de-registered.

"Hong Kong has always committed to discharge international obligations in implementing United Nations' sanctions and will continue its efforts in exercising due vigilance to exclude any company or ship under UN sanctions to be on the Hong Kong Shipping Register," she said, without giving further comment.

China is still Iran's top trading partner. Iranian crude volumes received by China have been below contracted levels since September, however, because Iran's tanker fleet, the sole transporter of its crude to China, has been struggling to meet delivery schedules, trade sources have said.

"After September 11, Hong Kong has proved itself time and again to be very compliant with all U.S. regulations with regards to supply chain security. It is not surprising they would de-register the ships," a European ship industry official said.

"The Chinese are still buying oil, and this is a clear illustration of the one country, two systems principle."

Hong Kong, a former British territory, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a deal that preserved much of its autonomy. Under a "one country, two systems" formula, Hong Kong has been promised full democracy as an "ultimate aim".

A targeted campaign by UANI, which includes former U.S. ambassadors on its board and is funded by private donations, has already led to the exit of a number of foreign companies from Iran.

"We applaud and thank Hong Kong for its responsible decision. No country should be flagging Iranian vessels, given the risks and the stakes involved," UANI said.

Last month IRISL's managing director, Mohammad Hussein Dajmar, said Western sanctions were hurting Iran's shipping industry and that the carrier would face increasingly grave problems if the pressure continued.

Dajmar said last month 20 ships out of its fleet or 165 vessels were laid up and not trading.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Brent climbs above 7-year high on Mideast tensions, tight supply
Brent climbs above 7-year high on Mideast tensions, tight supply
U.S. Senate panel to debate app store reform bill
U.S. Senate panel to debate app store reform bill
United Airlines warns 5G plan would impact 1.25 mln passengers a year
United Airlines warns 5G plan would impact 1.25 mln passengers a year
Loading Bars
Latest
Azerbaijan ranks among top aviation fuel exporters to Georgia
I'm on deserved rest in capital and haven't left anywhere - first president of Kazakhstan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 18
Russia documents 31,252 daily COVID-19 cases, highest number since December 6
USAID supports Turkmen government and local partners to improve securities market
Websites that will make the work of Graphic Designers easier
UNHCR discloses number of Azerbaijani refugees provided with legal assistance before Second Karabakh War (PHOTO)
Production of Iran's Khorasan Steel Company increases
National Iranian Oil Company to take steps on development of North Pars gas field
Azerbaijan fils lawsuits against Armenia to European Court of Human Rights
Non-OPEC crude oil supply to continue upward trend by 2023
Visitors from Azerbaijan to Georgia spend less in 2021 - NBG
Europe to see increase in jet fuel demand – JP Morgan
Iran’s NISOC announces date for launch of extraction from Kish gas field
Israel sticks with 4th vaccine shot, sees Omicron wave waning in a week
Uzbek Central Bank shares data on volume of reserve assets and gold reserves
Azerbaijani public representatives send appeal to French President
Iran's economic growth improves - CBI
Oil demand set to rise by 2023, says JP Morgan
Central Bank of Iran discloses amount of loans issued for agricultural sector
Azerbaijan increases wine imports from Georgia
Epsilon obtains industrial gas inflow from new well at field in Uzbekistan
AFAB Cataract Campaigns on Int’l Day of Elderly in Niger (FOTO)
JP Morgan expects Azerbaijan’s oil output to decline in 2022-2023
Amount of loans issued by Iranian banks soars
NIOC intends to extract gas from Iran-Saudi Arabia joint Farzad B gas field
Azerbaijani FM leaves for Austria on working visit
Iran sees increase in trade turnover with ECO member states
UAE bourses open in red after Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi
Time of market test for Greece-North Macedonia gas pipeline announced
Azerbaijan holding talks on regular flights to Fuzuli Int’l Airport – deputy minister
Georgia reveals wine export growth dynamics in strategic markets
Azerbaijan reveals procedure of buying tickets for bus trips to liberated lands
Trips to Azerbaijan's liberated areas on all routes to be carried out in one day - ministry
At first stage only Azerbaijani citizens allowed to visit Karabakh – deputy minister
Citizens can visit liberated districts of Azerbaijan once a year - agency (PHOTO)
Police cars to accompany passenger buses through Azerbaijani liberated lands
Azerbaijan discloses cost of bus trips to liberated areas (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan to launch regular bus trips to Karabakh soon
Kazakhstan to keep inflation in energy sector within set borders - ministry
President Ilham Aliyev unveils monument to philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev in Baku (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iran’s NIOC interested in increasing gas exports
Azerbaijan discloses loans of banks being liquidated by Deposit Insurance Fund
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan affirm commitment to Afghanistan
Azerbaijani Express-C company’s bonds included in listing of Baku Stock Exchange
Azerbaijan Airlines to present new “Azal Club” loyalty program
Kazakhstan to amend supply chain of petroleum products
2021 enters Azerbaijani history as year of social reforms - Analysis
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan see significant increase in mutual trade
Georgia’s trade turnover figures grow – TBC Capital
2022 budget for Ighdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline disclosed
Georgia publishes COVID-19 data for January 18
Azerbaijan, Turkey discuss co-op on restoration projects in Karabakh
Uzbekistan shares domestic COVID-19 data for January 17
New school built in Azerbaijan's Gazakh on Heydar Aliyev Foundation's initiative (PHOTO)
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 18
Kazakh Gas Processing Plant opens tender to buy spares for pumps
Azerbaijan shares data on prices of various food products for 12M2021
Money transfers from Kazakhstan to Georgia triple
Kazakhstan eyes to build fish factory in Mangystau region
Iran shares data on cooking oil imports
Iranian currency rates for Jan. 18
Water supply in several villages of Azerbaijan's Karabakh restored (PHOTO)
Brent climbs above 7-year high on Mideast tensions, tight supply
Turkmenistan discloses amount of products sold via local commodity exchange
Global problem of rising food prices - causes and solutions - ANALYSIS
Washington Post publishes article of Portugal-based traveler on Azerbaijan's Khinalig (PHOTO)
NATO looks forward to continued broad practical cooperation with Azerbaijan in coming period
Brent oil reaches $87 per barrel on ICE for first time since 2014
Turkey confirms 64,935 daily COVID-19 cases
Number of detained rioting, looting suspects in Almaty exceeds 2,700
5.0-magnitude quake jolts central Turkey
U.S. Senate panel to debate app store reform bill
United Airlines warns 5G plan would impact 1.25 mln passengers a year
Bayern striker Lewandowski awarded Best FIFA Men's Player of Year 2021
Yellen says U.S. economy "has never worked fairly for Black Americans"
North Korea confirms tactical guided missile test on Monday - media
4th Pfizer, Moderna shot less effective against Omicron: Israeli study
Kuwait's justice minister tests positive for COVID-19
Passenger traffic at Frankfurt airport picks up in 2021
Israel reduces COVID-19 quarantine to keep economy going
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe exceeds 325 million - WHO
Kazakhstan discloses data on mutual trade with top CIS partners
Israel's unemployment rate drops to 6, lowest since plagued by COVID-19
Turkey supports Georgia's participation in 3+3 peace talks
Solar power excels in Turkey's rapid shift to green energy sources
Azerbaijan FM receives delegation led by Chairman of Parliament of Montenegro (PHOTO)
Thousands of flights canceled in eastern U.S. as winter storm heads north
Shavkat Mirziyoyev hosts Deputy PM of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov
Magnitude 5.6 quake hits western Afghanistan, killing more than 20
US Joint Chiefs chairman and Marine Corps chief have COVID-19
Six servicemen returned by Azerbaijan arrested in Armenia
Approval of U.S. pandemic response hits new low: poll
Georgia exports 107 mln bottles of wine in 2021, record high in 9 years
Turkey condemns drone attack targeting Abu Dhabi
Nearly 60% of voters support amendments to Serbia’s constitution — electoral commission
Azerbaijani Prime Minister talks bilateral agenda with Chairman of Montenegro's Parliament
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan agree to resume TAPI construction
Another offshore project to boost operations at Kazakhstan's Kashagan
Russia and China - potential investors in Iran's ports
All news