Malta Freeport has renewed its contracts with Iran’s Hafiz Darya Shipping Lines (HDS) amid rising anticipation that sanctions will be removed on Tehran later this year, the national paper Times of Malta has reported.
Malta was the Mediterranean transit hub of Iranian national shipping line IRISL en route to Europe before trade was cut due to intensified sanctions in 2011.
HDS took over ISIL’s operations when the Iranian government began privatizing state-owned entities. The company was Malta’s second biggest client before sanctions forced it to pull out.
Times of Malta said the archipelago nation was intrigued by the fact that numerous countries were knocking on Iran’s doors in the hope of establishing commercial trade. The paper said the loss of Iranian clients had hit Malta Freeport hard.
US sanctions bar IRISL fleet of about 170 vessels from sailing in international waters. They also prohibit international shipping companies from calling on Iranian ports.
Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi, however, said earlier this month that ships from eight major international transportation companies had started to dock at Iran’s southern ports.
Head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) Mohammad Saeid-Nejad has said he expected a surge in activities in the country’s shipping sector.
“Fortunately, the capabilities of Iranian maritime industries have significantly increased over the past years,” Saeid-Nejad said.
“This, together with an increased cooperation with the world’s important (shipping) companies can greatly help satisfy Iran’s domestic needs.”