I ran’s non-oil foreign trade stood at 110 million tons worth $52 billion during the nine months ending Dec. 20.
According to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, exports were at 85.2 million tons worth $25.1 billion and imports at 25 million tons worth $26.8 billion during the period.
Compared with the corresponding period of last year (March 21-Dec. 21, 2019), exports registered a 17% and 20% decline in weight and value respectively, while imports show a 1% and 16% decline in weight and value year-on-year, he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
Iran’s main export destinations over the period included China with 20.6 million tons worth $6.4 billion, Iraq with 20.8 million tons worth $5.9 billion, the UAE with 11.4 million tons worth $3.3 billion, Turkey with 5.4 million tons worth $1.8 billion and Afghanistan with 5.2 million tons worth $1.7 billion.
The main exporters to Iran were China with 2.6 million tons worth $7 billion, the UAE with 3.5 million tons worth $6.3 billion, Turkey with 3.5 million tons worth $3 billion, India with 1.8 million tons worth $1.6 billion and Germany with 911,000 tons of goods worth $1.3 billion.
Mirashrafi said a total of 5.2 million tons of cargo were transited across the country over the period, indicating a 10.9% decline YOY.
Iran’s foreign trade reached $7.4 billion in the month leading to Dec. 20.
According to a report by the Persian economic daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, the monthly export hit 10.2 million tons worth $3.6 billion and imports reached 3.2 million tons worth $3.7 billion, indicating a trade deficit of $100 million for the country.
Compared with the previous month, exports show a 9% and imports indicate a 19.4% growth, however exports decreased by 26% but imports increased by 7.2% year-on-year.
Imports of essential goods accounted for 17.5 million tons of the total imports (25 essential items constituted 70% of imports in terms of weight), the IRICA chief said.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
Amid high inflation and diminished purchasing power, the Iranian government has sought to ensure a steady supply of essential goods at subsidized prices.
Following the re-tanking of the national currency in early 2017, the government introduced stringent rules like banning the import of non-essential goods, especially those produced inside the country (known as Group IV goods). It allocated subsidized currency at the rate of 42,000 rials to a dollar to 25 categories of goods (otherwise known as Group I or essential goods) to help protect consumers against galloping inflation, rampant price gouging and hoarding, not to mention the high and rising cost of living.
Two other categories of imports were also defined: Group II that mostly included raw materials, intermediate and capital goods, and Group III consisting of essential consumer goods.
Importers of products in Group II were to meet their forex requirements from the secondary forex market, known by its Persian name Nima. Group III importers could buy hard currency from exporters who were not required to offer their forex earnings on Nima.
In the last fiscal year (March 2019-20), the government removed five items, namely red meat, butter, pulses, tea and sugar from the list of basic goods entitled to subsidized currency.
So far, vegetable oil, oilseeds, corn, barley, soybean meal, raw material for manufacturing tires, heavy-duty vehicle tires, paper pulp and different types of paper are still considered essential goods.
A total of 25.09 million tons of essential goods worth $15.5 billion were imported into Iran during the last fiscal year (March 2019-20) to register a 20.77% and 17.13% increase…