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Maersk is shutting down its business in Iran following the reimposition of US sanctions, according to A.P. Moller-Maersk Group CEO Soren Skou.

“With the sanctions the Americans are to impose, you can’t do business in Iran if you also have business in the U.S., and we have that on a large scale,” Skou told Reuters this week.

Economic sanctions on Iran had been lifted in 2015 after its government reached an agreement with the United States and other permanent members of the United Nations to limit and monitor its development of nuclear facilities.

However, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord earlier this month after having repeatedly described it as a bad deal.

Maersk Line shipping
Credit: A.P. Moller–Maersk Group

Maersk is among a number of European companies, including French energy company Total, who have indicated their exits from Iran, despite the European Union’s continued commitment to the deal. The exodus could make it more difficult for the EU to keep the agreement afloat.

“We have to admit that the Americans have taken a number of initiatives recently that have caught us by surprise,” said Skou. He warned generally of “increased uncertainties due to geopolitical risks and trade tensions”, and referred to the damage that could be caused by a trade war between the United States and China.

Skou’s interview with Reuters followed Maersk’s first quarter report, in which profits fell short of expectations due to the rising costs of container shipping amid sluggish growth.

The company recently announced a restructuring of its enterprises, selling its oil and gas business to Total and focusing on its freight forwarding operations.

(Source: Reuters 1, 2)

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