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$410 Million Surplus in Iran's Mineral Trade With China

Iron ore was the main exported commodity in the seven-month period, standing at 10.47 million tons valued at $584.25 million
Iran is currently the seventh largest iron ore supplier to ChinaIran is currently the seventh largest iron ore supplier to China
The fiscal 2017-18 is the very first time that the Chinese imported steel from Iran

Iranian miners exported 12.44 million tons of mineral products worth $1.08 billion to China during the first seven months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Oct. 22), statistics released by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development Renovation Organization showed.

This is while imports stood at 775,271 tons valued at $669.56 million, bringing Iran’s mineral trade balance with China to positive territory. Iron ore was the main exported commodity in the seven-month period, standing at 10.47 million tons valued at $584.25 million.

“Iran is currently the seventh largest iron ore supplier to China—a three-step drop compared to its 2013 heyday,” a member of the board and the head of international affairs at Iranian Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association, Keyvan Jafari Tehrani, said.

Tehrani said Iran’s share of Chinese iron ore imports stood at 2.3-2.5% in 2013 while it exported 23.5 million tons, over 90% of which went to China.

The official forecasts Iran’s 2017 iron ore shipments to reach 17-17.5 million tons by the yearend, emphasizing that despite the 6-million-ton drop compared to 2013, the same 90% of it will go to China.

Scales, however, are shifting in the Chinese market. Increasing demand for steel, among other mineral products, coupled with the intensification of China’s environmental policies, has weakened domestic supply to new lows.

This can clearly be witnessed in drastically reduced Chinese steel exports, as China’s 150-million-ton steel shipments in 2016 dropped to less than half so far this year.

China’s anti-smog policies have also worked. Goldman Sachs estimates that the air quality of Beijing has improved 41% so far this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The backdrop of surging steel prices and lower output in China is a boon for mills, both on the mainland, which make up half the global supply, and beyond. This also includes Iranian mills, which have benefited in the process.

“The current fiscal year is the very first time that the Chinese imported steel from Iran,” Bahador Ahramian, a member of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said.

Iran shipped 245,353 tons of steel products to China in the seven-month period worth $22.86 million.

The industrial giant’s steel exports to Iran still dwarf Iranian shipments, however. IMIDRO’s statistics indicate that 519,645 tons of Chinese steel worth $434.4 million were imported during the period.

Iran exported 29.6 million tons of minerals worth $3.89 billion during the seven-month period under review, registering a 21% rise in volume and a 15% rise in value compared with last year’s corresponding period.

Steel and its products accounted for a majority of export value. Iran exported 3.8 million tons of steel and its related products worth $1.63 billion, which indicate a 55% surge in tonnage and a 10% rise in value.

Mineral imports during the period stood at 3.5 million tons worth $2.27 billion, registering a 28% and 17% decline in quantity and value respectively.

Steel products were the main imported mineral commodity. As much as 2.6 million tons of the products worth $1.6 billion were imported, indicating a 3% increase in weight and a 6% decline in value.

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