MSC has been quick off the blocks to resume direct liner services to Iran ahead of the anticipated official lifting of sanctions later this month.

Indeed, there has been a rush of western businesses re-establishing links with Iran since the nuclear deal was struck last year, no doubt encouraged by the mouth-watering forecasts of pent up middle-class consumer demand.

Carriers, such as MSC, are keen to find a new niche tradelane after most other routes have been destroyed by overcapacity attributed to the cascading of bigger ships into traditionally small ship markets. However, MSC’s 2M alliance partner, Maersk Line, is taking a more cautionary view on Iran, preferring to await the formal ‘implementation date’ of the lifting of trade sanctions before returning its ships to the trade.

The Danish liner giant might have have a point: Iran’s recent spat with Saudi Arabia, and not least reports of renewed tensions with the US, could delay the removal of sanctions and at worst scupper them altogether.