EghtesadOnline: Iran’s non-oil trade stood at $13.98 billion during the first three months of the current fiscal year (March 20-June 20), of which exports accounted for $6.36 billion and imports for $7.62 billion, Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, says.
Iran exported over 21.92 million tons of non-oil goods worth $6.36 billion during the period to register a 43.98% and 45.12% decline in value and weight respectively year-on-year.
Q1 imports weighed over 8.92 million tons worth $7.62 billion, posting a decrease of 26.76% in value and 0.78% in tonnage YOY.
The country posted a trade deficit of $1.26 billion over the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted normal economic activity around the world, the official said, “The decline in our exports in recent months is to blame on the outbreak of coronavirus and closure of borders. However, exports have begun to normalize since mid-June.”
80% of Commercial Borders Reopened Since Covid-19
Almost all Iranian land borders were closed down after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, some 80% of which have now, after more than four months of shutdown, been opened and are currently active, caretaker of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade said recently.
“Trade is almost back to normal. We experienced a downfall in trade during the first few months of the current Iranian year [started March 20] because of the complications caused by the spread of Covid-19 in domestic and international trade. But now we are back on track and are making up for the past four months,” Hossein Modarres Khiyabani was quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official noted that Iran plans to export a total of $41 billion worth of non-oil goods in the current Iranian year (March 2020-21).
Rouhollah Latifi, spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, has recently expounded on the latest status of Iran's borders with neighboring countries.
“Two of the crossings with the central government of Iraq, namely Mehran in Ilam Province and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province, are currently open for trade and the rest are closed. All border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region are open,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The IRICA spokesman added that Razi and Bazargan rail border crossings with Turkey are active and bilateral trade is taking place through the two countries’ rail connections.
“All borders with the neighboring Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan region are open and active. Commercial crossings with Armenia have opened up as well. Our sea borders in the north of the country, namely Astara, Anzali, Hassanroud, Noshahr, Amirabad and Fereydounkenar, are fully active,” he said.
Latifi said limited trade with Turkmenistan is underway via railroad.
“All the 110 wagons that were held up at the Incheh Boroun border crossing in the northern Golestan Province for the past four months were let into the neighboring Turkmenistan last week,” he said.
Mirjaveh border crossing with Pakistan and all markets at the common border between the two countries are active and trade is taking place there just as usual, he added.
Sea borders with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman in the south of the country, Latifi said, are active and commercial vessels are commuting like they did before the pandemic.
The official concluded by saying that Georgia, not a neighbor of Iran, has closed its borders for all Iranian trucks and commodities, and Russia imposed limitations on the export of certain goods for all countries, Iran included.
Russian officials, Latifi added, have announced that these limitations will be lifted as of July 1.
Gasoline, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), polyethylene and other light oils were Iran’s main exports while field corn, wheat, cellphones, semi-milled rice and raw soybeans were Iran's major imports during the period under review, Fars News Agency quoted Mirashrafi as saying.
Gasoline exports worth $698 million accounted for 10.97% of overall exports during the three-month period.
In late May, Iran sent five oil tankers, namely Forest, Fortune, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel, carrying 1.53 million barrels of gasoline all under flag of Iran to Venezuela despite US sanctions.
Q1 exports of natural gas were worth $367 million (with a share of 5.77%), LPG $265 million (4.16%), polyethylene $241 million (3.79%) and other light gas exports were worth $187 million (2.93%).
Oil-based products and byproducts as well as petrochemical products are included in IRICA's non-oil export data. In fact, petrochemicals and gas condensates constitute the greater share of total exports.
Q1 imports of field corn stood at $588 million with the share of 7.72% of overall imports; wheat at $537 million with 7.05%; cellphones at $358 million with 4.7%; semi- rice and wholly-milled rice worth $205 million with 2.69% and soybeans at $170 million with a share of 2.23% from total imports.
China was Iran’s main export destination in Q1, with $1.84 billion worth of non-oil imports during the three-month period to account for 28.91% of Iran’s total exports.
It was followed by Iraq with $1.48 billion and the share of more than 23.4% of Iran’s exports, the UAE with $967 million and the share of 15.2%, Afghanistan with $499 million and the share of 7.8% and Turkey with $250 million and the share of 4% in Iran’s total exports.
Exports to China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey dropped by 28%, 37.06%, 6.9% and 88.8% compared with last year’s similar period while exports to the UAE improved by 8.5% YOY.
Exports to other countries with the share of 21% of Iran’s total exports fell by 52.5% to stand at $1.31 billion.
Top exporters to Iran were China with $1.93 billion and a share of 25.4% of Iran’s total imports, the UAE with $1.7 (22.3%), Turkey with $815 million (10.7%), India with $529 (7%) and Russia with $421 million (5.5%).
Imports from China, Turkey and India respectively decreased by 1,834%, 36.1% and 57.8% when compared with last year’s same period while imports from the UAE and Russia improved by 8.5% and 43.22% YOY respectively.
Q1 imports from other countries with a share of 29.1% of Iran’s total exports plunged by 39% YOY to stand at $2.23 billion.