China: Iran’s Top Trading Partner
China has emerged as Iran's top trading partner, with trade between the two countries totaling more than $50 billion over the past ten months, which indicates a 30% growth compared with the similar period last year, says Majid-Reza Hariri, deputy head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce.
"Nearly 30 percent of Iran's total exports went to China during this period, while China in turn accounted for about a quarter of Iran's total imports," ISNA quoted Hariri as saying.
Based on the latest statistics from the Iran Customs Administration, in the first ten months of the current Iranian calendar year, (ends March 20) the value of Iran’s non-oil exports to China reached $8.81 billion while the value of imports stood at $10.3 million.
Iran mainly imported from China services and commodities related with roads, power stations and petrochemical plants, railroad and subway machineries, railcars,locomotive parts, and consumer products, while Iran’s top exports included oil and gas condensates, petrochemicals, minerals, iron ore, and decorative stones, Hariri noted.
China is the biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil, accounting for more than half of Iran's total oil exports, Hariri informed.
Anticipating growth in bilateral trade between Iran and China following a possible lifting of sanctions – imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council over its nuclear energy program – Hariri said: "For successful future trade relations with countries such as China, Iran must shift from its current exports of raw materials and agricultural products to exporting processed industrial products."
> Much Sought-After Goods
Hariri also noted that Iranian handmade carpets, pistachio, saffron and date have gained popularity in China, observing the potential for increasing the export of such commodities.
The Iran-China Trade Conference held in Tehran last week, which was attended by trade officials and business owners, touched upon issues such as China's macro economy, financing joint projects and establishing joint firms with Chinese companies, Chinese market demand and export opportunities for Iranian businessmen.
Speaking at the conference, former Iranian ambassador to China, Mehdi Safari referred to the growing market for luxury goods in China, and said: "Iranian hand-made carpet is in demand among China's growing population of high earners."
He also mentioned Iranian handicraft, date and medicinal herbs as other sought-after commodities in the Chinese market, while expressing displeasure over the fact that Iranian dates are often exported to China after being packed and labeled in neighboring Pakistan.
Referring to China as "the largest buyer of Iran's crude oil before and after the western sanctions, and a major destination for Iran's export of petrochemicals," he said the overall trade between Iran and China has grown by $20 billion over the past five years thanks to increasing export of non-oil products.
Speaking on China's rapidly growing outbound tourism market, Safari underlined the importance of expanding tourism with China to encourage export of carpets and handicrafts to Chinese travelers.
Addressing the conference, the director general of Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) of Iran's Office for Asia-Pacific Trade, Mojtaba Mousavian referred to China as "the world’s leading trading nation, surpassing the United States," and said the TPO will to send trade delegations to Chinese cities to expand trade relations.
In another move to explore new avenues for boosting trade, Majid-Reza Hariri announced during the conference that the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce has scheduled trade conferences in three major Chinese cities in June.