EghtesadOnline: Customs clearance of imported essential goods via the "green channel" reached an all-time high in the month ending Dec. 21, says Mehrdad Jamal Arvanaqi, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
In the same month, 51% of all declaration forms for essential goods were approved for clearance through the green channel with the least legal formalities compared with the previous months' 10%, the official was quoted as saying by IRNA.
A total of 25,943 tons of rice were cleared from customs in the month ending Oct. 22. In the following month, a total of 26,533 tons were imported while last month, a total of 103,288 tons of rice were cleared by customs, indicating a sixfold rise month-on-month.
The customs clearance of meat decreased from 17,976 tons in the month ending Oct. 22 to 10,721 tons in the month ending Nov. 21 but climbed to 18,046 tons last month, Financial Tribune reported.
Soybean oilcake’s customs clearance stood at 73,197 tons in the month ending Oct. 22 compared with 58,405 tons in the month ending Nov. 21. Last month, a total of 172,714 tons of soybean oilcake were cleared by customs.
A total of 613,749 tons of corn were cleared in the month ending Nov. 21 compared with 717,599 tons last month.
About 50,280 tons of chemical fertilizers were released from customs in the month ending Oct. 22 compared with 17,585 tons in the following month and 57,739 tons in the month ending Dec. 21.
A total of 54,000 tons of publication paper were cleared by customs in the month ending Oct. 22 compared with 52,547 tons in the month ending Nov. 21 and a total of 89,980 tons in the following month.
A total of 7,370 tons of pulses were cleared by customs in the month ending Oct. 22 compared with 9,598 tons in the month ending Dec. 21.
The customs clearance of oilseeds stood at 36,482 tons in the month ending Oct. 22, a total of 28,942 tons in the month ending Nov. 21 and a total of 67,465 tons in the following month.
$14b Allocated to Import of Essential Goods
A total of $14 billion have been allocated to import essential goods as part of the next fiscal year's (March 2020-21) budget, says Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Ali Dehqan Dehnavi.
"Rice, barley, corn, vegetable oil, oilseeds, animal feed and medicines are among essential goods entitled to subsidized foreign currency rates by the government," he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products and services consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
According to Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the head of Plan and Budget Organization, subsidized dollar at a rate of 42,000 rials will be allocated to import essential goods next year, like before.
The market value of dollar against the rial hovers around 130,000 these days.
"The government has identified abovementioned products as essential goods needed by the people and it has decided to keep their prices in check," the deputy economy minister added.
He described the $14 billion allocation as government subsidy aimed at helping Iranians weather the economic hardship caused by sanctions.
Referring to criticisms leveled against allocation of cheap foreign currency for such imports, Dehnavi said, "The government has decided that in case supervision over the distribution of certain goods may not be possible for delivering these goods to end users, those goods will be eliminated from the list of subsidized commodities."
As a case in point, butter, tea and red meat have been removed from the list, he added.
No Concern Over Essential Goods Supply
According to the Agriculture Ministry, essential goods’ production and supply have the best possible condition.
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Mehdi Mir-Ashrafi said 13.5 million tons of basic commodities and staples were imported in the first seven months of the current year (March 21-Oct. 22).
“Out of a total of 20 million tons imported in the first seven months of the current year, 13.5 million tons [or 67.5%] were basic commodities,” Mir-Ashrafi, who doubles as deputy economy minister, was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Imports of staples and basic commodities registered a 22% growth in terms of weight as compared to the previous year, the IRICA president said.
Ever since the imposition of sanctions by the United States last year dubbed by US President Donald Trump's administration as "toughest ever", the Iranian government focused on importing essential goods, mainly food and pharmaceuticals.
On the other hand, imports of what the government deems non-essential goods, mainly those produced domestically, have been restricted or banned.
Tough economic sanctions were imposed after Trump decided to walk out of the landmark nuclear deal Iran signed with the six world powers, including the US.
The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed in 2015 and implemented a year later. It saw years of international sanctions lifted against Iran. In exchange, the country agreed to limit the scope of its nuclear program.
The US sanctions have targeted Iran's trade by obstructing its trade with most countries.
As the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development reported, Iranian ports handled 11.95 million tons of cargo during the seventh month (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) of the current Iranian year, of which 5.3 million tons were unloaded from and 6.64 million tons were loaded onto vessels.
Oil products had the biggest share of ports’ performance with 3.99 million tons, followed by essential goods at 2.5 million tons and construction materials and minerals at 2.43 million tons.
During the same period of last year, Iranian ports handled 10.56 million tons of cargo—13.2% less than in the same period of the current year.
Loading and unloading of essential goods and oil products saw a 23.9% and 5.4% growth year-on-year.
Imam Khomeini Port in southern Khuzestan Province was the busiest port during the month under review with 4.35 million tons of cargo, particularly essential goods and oil products, News.mrud.ir reported.
Imam Khomeini Port has been at the forefront of importing essential goods.
Presently, between 75% and 80% of all essential goods are imported via Imam Khomeini Port.