EghtesadOnline: The decision to impose customs duty on date exports has been criticized by the head of Iran Chamber of Cooperatives' Agriculture and Food Industries Commission.
Arsalan Qasemi has voiced his strong criticism in letters sent to the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Hamid Zadboum, and Deputy Industries Minister Hossein Modarres Khiyabani, Mehr News Agency reported.
Exports of dates will be subject to customs duty from April 3 to May 20, TPO had announced in a letter to the National Association of Iranian Dates last month, according to Financial Tribune.
“The rate of the duty will be announced in the near future,” the association said.
The measure is said to be aimed at regulating the market during the holy month of Ramadan and avoiding a likely price increase in the domestic market, as consumption increases during the month because date is a typical staple of Muslims to break fasting.
This year, in particular, besides higher demand during Ramadan, prices have skyrocketed in line with Iran’s runaway inflation.
Qasemi noted that the decision is "senseless", as sanctions have made exports of agro products, especially dates, difficult and imposing duties and snap restrictions only help rival producers in the region to capture Iran's target markets, which can only be regained with extreme difficulty.
The letter points out that Iran exported 139,000 tons of dates worth $123.31 million during the nine months to Dec. 21.
According to Qasemi, Iran produced 1.27 million tons of dates during the last Iranian year (March 2018-19).
Iran exported more than 300,000 tons of dates last year (March 2018-19) to account for 15% of the crop’s global trade, according to Agriculture Ministry official, Zahra Jalili Moqaddam.
“Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates with an annual production of around 1.2 million tons. The figure accounts for 10% of the global output,” she was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Oman and Libya are top 10 producers of dates in the world. Egypt has the biggest production and Algeria has the biggest area of land under date cultivation.
There are a dozen types of dates produced in Iran.
Chairman of the National Association of Iranian Dates Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi says Iran exports around 20% of its overall production.
“The government has a five-year plan to increase the share of exports from local production to 30%,” he said.
North American and European Union countries, as well as Russia, India and China, are the main destinations for Iranian dates.
Per capita date consumption in Iran is 3 kilograms per year.
Date is mainly produced in six Iranian provinces, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars. This year, production from Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan and Khuzestan accounted for 800,000 tons of the total output (70%).