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EghteasadOnline: The government has finally consented to allow open market exchange rates for certain import transactions and markets reacted positively to the news, as the bull run in the foreign exchange and gold coin markets started losing steam.

According to Mehr News Agency, after a meeting between the government's Economic Council and President Hassan Rouhani, the latter was finally convinced that the unified rate of 42,000 rials adopted in April no longer works for all imports. 

A banking official said the government's economic team had intended for a while to adopt an open market rate for certain goods but following the president's insistence that the unified rate act as an all-purpose rate, the decision was postponed for a month. 

According to the new measure, however, exporters that do not have to register in the online Integrated Forex Deals System (known as Nima) can sell their hard currency to importers of "non-essential" goods at "negotiated" exchange rates, Financial Tribune reported.

Although the negotiated rate will probably face some rage limits, hopes that it will be much closer to the unofficial market rate than the unified rate, has been welcomed by market as well as businesses. 

The shortage of hard currency and its soaring price led to some businesses closing their shops and staging walkouts in Tehran's Grand Bazaar. 

According to the latest scheme, the allocation of hard currency would involve a four-tier system wherein imports will receive their needed foreign currency at different rates, based on their priority. The fourth class of imported goods, which the government has deemed "luxurious", will face an outright ban. 

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, "basic" goods such as staples like oil, rice and wheat will receive their currency needs from oil revenues at the 42,000-rial rate, which will be further subsidized to 38,000 rials. 

The next priority includes "raw materials and intermediate goods", the forex requirements of which will be met from the export earnings of petrochemicals, steels and mineral products. 

Goods included in the second category include raw materials, machinery and equipment, which will be provided with the greenback at the exchange rate of 42,000 rials. 

The third category includes "consumer goods", the hard currency for which will be provided from exports that are not required to be registered in Nima. 

According to Central Bank of Iran's Governor Valiollah Seif, the hard currency for the import of these goods will be provided for from the 20% of imports mostly belonging to exporters from the private sector.

According to a previous statement by IRIC, the third-category goods will receive their hard currency at the rate of 42,000 rials plus the price of export declaration forms, which will be negotiated between the exporter and importer.

The list of such goods will soon be released by Trade Promotion Organization of Iran. 

According to Seif, the list of goods that receive cheaper currency will soon be released by CBI so to identify price gouging by some sellers. 

Market Reaction 

Following the new measure, the US dollar lost momentum in the unofficial market with rial reportedly being traded at 80,000-85,000 rials. The exchange rate had approached 90,000 rials on Sunday and its rally looked unstoppable.  

The gold coin, in the midst of an unprecedented rally, was also down 3.66% in midday trade and changed hands at 28.71 million rials ($683 at the official exchange rate.) 

Tehran Stock Exchange's main index also gained 2.78% on Sunday and breached the 115,174 point that marks another historic high for the index.  

The government decided to unify the US dollar's exchange rate at 42,000 rials on April 9 in response to volatility that saw the rial sink to an all-time low against the greenback. 

The announcement was later followed by other measures approved by the Cabinet and subsequently notified by CBI. 

However, the significant gap between the official rate and the black market rate led to a deluge of request for cheap currency–which many believe the government would not be able to provide for. 

Seif hoped that these actions will calm the economic situation "in spite of efforts by enemies, especially the US, to disturb the markets". 

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the international nuclear deal with Iran on May 8 and said he would reimpose sanctions within 180 days, prompting several European companies to announce they would end business with Tehran before the Nov. 4 deadline.


Iran Markets Iran government Forex Open Market open market exchange rates import transactions