EghtesadOnline: Boosting self-sufficiency in key areas, domestic production and increasing non-oil exports should be prioritized in the sanctions era, as they can help improve the economy and foil America's plots against Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.
"The United States' efforts to cut Iran's oil exports are aimed at reducing our hard currency earnings and the best way to thwart their plans is by raising domestic production and exporting non-oil commodities," the president told a ceremony in Tehran to commemorate workers ahead of Labor Day, which falls on Wednesday, his website reported.
Ordinary Iranians are bearing the brunt of US "unjust" and "illegal" sanctions, he said, adding that the administration will continue to use all resources to improve economic conditions with the help of workers.
Iran's economy has been squeezed since US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on the OPEC producer's vital energy and banking sectors last year after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, Financial Tribune reported.
US officials have said the sanctions are intended to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and alter its regional policy. Iran has ruled this out.
The rial has fallen sharply in value, disrupting Iran's foreign trade and exacerbating inflation. Currency fluctuations and the unstable economy have led to sporadic protests since late 2017.
Rouhani said a reduction in demand for foreign currency, or an increase in forex revenues could help prop up the national currency.
"Self-sufficiency would help shore up the national currency, as it would lower demand for foreign currency," he added, stressing that expansion of non-oil exports would bring a higher flow of foreign currency into Iran.
The Islamic Republic is currently exporting $40 billion worth of non-oil products on an annual basis and maintaining this positive momentum could help the country withstand US pressure, he said.
Rouhani also called on domestic manufacturers to enhance the quality of their products, as it could help stimulate national production.
In a bid to help bolster Iran's economy without reliance on other countries, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has named the new Iranian year, which began on March 21, after "Boosting Production". A host of measures are being taken by the administration to achieve the same.
In his speech, the president vowed that Iran will continue to sell oil despite US pressure to reduce the nation's crude oil shipments to zero.
"The Americans' decision that Iran's oil exports must reach zero is wrong and we will not let this decision materialize," Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.
"In the coming months, the Americans themselves will see that we are continuing our oil exports. They may be closing a door on us, but more than one door exists … We will continue to export oil with full force," he stressed, without giving specifics.
Oil prices hit their highest since November last week after Washington said all waivers for sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end this week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply, according to Reuters.
The United States demanded last Monday that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that had allowed Iran's eight biggest customers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.