Imports, Exports Even Out
Iran’s non-oil foreign trade during the nine months of the current Iranian year (started March 20) stood at $63.12 billion.
According to the latest report released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, 91.26 million tons of commodities worth $31.59 billion were exported during the period, registering a 9.05% rise compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Imports stood at 24.86 million tons worth $31.53 billion, indicating a 4.38% rise year-on-year.
Gas condensate was the main exported commodity ($5.12 billion), making up for 16.22% of the export value. It was followed by liquefied natural gases ($1.95 billion or 6.18%), light crude oil, excluding gasoline ($1.23 billion or 3.89%), petroleum gases and liquefied hydrocarbons ($1.06 billion or 3.28%) and liquefied propane ($868 million or 2.75%).
Imports mainly included field corn ($1.01 billion), soybean ($656 million), auto parts ($605 million), motor vehicles ($544 million) and rice ($527 million).
China was the biggest customer of Iranian products during the nine months, as Iran exported $5.69 billion worth of goods to the Asian country, 7.5% more than last year. Other major export destinations included the UAE with $5.05 billion, Iraq with $4.57 billion, Turkey with $2.71 billion and South Korea with $2.33 billion.
Major exporters to Iran included China ($7.51 billion), the UAE ($5.1 billion), South Korea ($2.5 billion), Turkey ($2.01 billion) and Germany ($1.78 billion). Imports from China declined by 2.37%, the UAE by 10.01%, South Korea by 8.1% and Turkey by 9.89%. However, imports from Germany show a 38.22% rise year-on-year. Imports from other countries registered an average growth of 19.09%.
Iran’s non-oil foreign trade stood at $81.38 billion in the last Iranian year (March 2015-16). Imports amounted to $40.13 billion—down 22.77% compared with the preceding year. These mainly originated from China, the UAE, South Korea, Turkey and Switzerland.
Exports reached $41.24 billion, indicating a 16.3% drop. China, Iraq, the UAE, Afghanistan and India were the main export destinations.
According to Saman Panahi, an economic researcher, Iran currently exports to 150 countries, with 93% of all Iranian exports going to 20 countries, namely China, the UAE, Iraq, Turkey, South Korea, India, Afghanistan, Japan, Pakistan, Oman, Azerbaijan, Italy, Turkmenistan, Taiwan, Spain, Armenia, Germany, Thailand, Syria and Egypt, and the remaining 130 countries are destinations of only 7% of Iranian goods.
Only 20 products account for over 58% of all non-oil exports, with 6,000 commodities constituting the rest.
According to Saeed Gholami-Baghi with the Majlis Research Center, these figures show lack of diversity in Iran’s exports and export destinations, which puts the country’s foreign trade at risk.
Smuggling continues to wreak havoc on the Iranian economy, albeit less severely compared to a few years ago.
Authorities put the rate at $15 billion per annum, mainly pertaining to illegal imports. It stood at a staggering $25 billion the year before President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013.