EghtesadOnline: Iran’s non-oil foreign trade stood at $19.63 billion during the four months to July 21, of which exports acc ounted for $8.71 billion and imports constituted $10.92 billion, according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
The country posted a trade deficit of $2.21 billion over the first four months of the current fiscal year.
Noting that Iran traded over 42.07 million tons of non-oil goods during the four-month period, the official put the weight of exports and imports at 30.28 million tons and 11.79 million tons respectively, Fars News Agency reported.
“Compared with the corresponding period of last year [March 21-July 22, 2019], exports and imports registered a 39% and 1% decline in weight and a 40% and 24% decrease in value, respectively,” he said.
Oil-based products and byproducts, as well as petrochemical products, are included in the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration's non-oil export data. In fact, petrochemicals and gas condensates constitute the bigger share of total exports.
China was Iran’s main export destination with 8.46 million tons of non-oil goods worth $2.47 billion to account for 28% of Iran’s total exports.
It was followed by Iraq with 6.44 million tons of imports from Iran worth $1.96 billion and a share of 22% of Iran’s total exports, the UAE with 4.62 million tons worth $1.21 billion and a share of 14%, Afghanistan with 2.11 million tons worth $713 million and a share of 8% and Turkey with 843,000 tons worth $405 million and a share of 5% from Iran’s total exports.
Top five exporters to Iran during the period under review were China with 1 million tons worth $2.8 billion and a share of 25% of Iran’s total imports, the UAE with 1.33 million tons of non-oil goods worth $2.47 billion and a share of 23%, Turkey with 1.87 million tons worth $1.17 billion and a share of 11%, India with 939,000 tons of non-oil goods worth $757 million and a share of 7% and Germany with 493,000 tons of goods worth $536 million and a share of 5%,” Latifi said.
According to a report by the Persian-language daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, Iran’s non-oil exports during one month to July 21 (the fourth month of the current Iranian year) indicate a 13% growth in weight and value compared with the month ending June 20 to stand at 8.37 million tons worth $2.33 billion.
Imports during the month show a month-on-month increase of 27% in value and a 14% rise in weight to stand at 2.87 million tons worth $3.28 billion. The monthly trade deficit hovered around $944 million. Iran’s foreign trade increased from $4.64 billion in the month ending June 20 to $5.61 billion in the month ending July 21.
The country’s trade deficit over the past four months is mainly related to trade disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mohammad Lahouti, the head of Iran Export Confederation said.
“Forecasts say global trade will contract by 15-30% in 2020. Iran would also be affected by the issue as well as US sanctions. Almost all border crossings were closed from February to late May due the outbreak of coronavirus; Iran was unable to have any exports and we practically lost two of our main export destinations, namely Iraq and Afghanistan. However, marine trade continued and imports from our top trading partner, China, kept more or less in step.
“You also need to factor in the role of coronavirus on global economy and the decline in people’s income and purchasing power. Demand for consumer and intermediate goods have plummeted sharply; businesses take a drubbing as tourist numbers plunge. Anyhow, it is our hope to see the country’s trade deficit narrow in the next couple of months, but that is contingent on coronavirus developments,” he said.
Status of Borders
The IRICA spokesman recently gave the latest account of Iran's commercial exchanges through border crossings with neighboring countries, as the outbreak of coronavirus restricted the flow of goods through land borders.
Referring to trade with Iraq, Latifi said the reopening of Chazzabeh border crossing with the Arab neighbor has been postponed by the absence of Iraqi quarantine team, IRNA reported.
Chazzabeh border crossing in the southern Khuzestan Province has been closed for five months now, following the outbreak of coronavirus.
Latifi said the Iraqi government has given the green light for reopening Sumar (Mandali on Iraqi side) Border Terminal in Qasr-e Shirin County of Kermanshah Province, but the resumption of activities awaits the import permit by the Iraqi side.
The Arabic-language news agency Al-Malumah quoted Iraqi officials as saying that Mandali has resumed trade operations on July 26. It didn’t elaborate on the crossing’s activities.
Latifi added that Iraq also reopened its Manzarieh border crossing with Iran (called Khosravi on the Iranian side) on July 23.
According to the IRICA spokesman, Iranian commodities can now be transported to Iraq through the border crossing that links Iran’s Kermanshah Province to Iraq’s Diyala Governorate.
The official says no restrictions have been placed on the gateway’s commercial exchanges.
Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on July 7 after more than three months of closure to combat the viral outbreak.
The crossing was being opened only for food trade, allowing in some 500 trucks from Iran on Wednesdays and Sundays, an official said.
Iraq closed its international borders and provincial boundaries in March, except for the delivery of essential goods such as food, as it sought to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The crossings of Mehran in Ilam Province and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province are also open to trade, Latifi said.
Mehran border terminal was reopened on June 9. Transshipment of Iranian products through this border crossing is allowed on Mondays and Wednesdays, Otaghiranonline.ir reported.
As for Iran's crossings into the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, namely Parvizkhan, Bashmaq and Tamarchin, they have been open all along.
The border crossings of Siran Band and Sardasht-Kileh are also open.
Latifi announced that all land border crossings with Pakistan are operational.
“However, restrictions are still in place for the export of hydrocarbon products to Pakistan through Mirjaveh border crossing. At present, 150 trucks loaded with hydrocarbon products are waiting for the Islamabad government’s permission to enter Pakistan,” he said.
Based on earlier reports, Pishin border crossing, a gateway to neighboring Pakistan, reopened on May 2.
The border crossing, which is located in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, is now open for trading food products every other day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, Mehr News Agency reported in May.
A maximum of 20 trucks and 40-50 pickup and mini trucks are allowed to pass through.
The IRICA spokesman said Rimdan border crossing, also on the Iran-Pakistan frontier in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, is open.
Pakistan first closed its eastern and western borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India on March 15 to contain the viral outbreak.
Regarding borders with Afghanistan, Latifi said all three crossings of Milak, Mahiroud and Dogharoun are open for trade.
Referring to the border status with Turkmenistan, Latifi said all road borders remain closed, while trade with Turkmenistan is carried out via railroad through Incheh Boroun and Sarakhs.
He said trade with northern neighbors is still underway through Caspian Sea ports, namely Anzali, Astara, Caspian, Noshahr, Fereydounkenar and Amirabad.
Marine routes to Russia and Azerbaijan are open. Rail routes to Azerbaijan are also operating.
The border crossings of Bileh Savar and Jolfa are active for road trades with the Republic of Azerbaijan, he added.
Iran-Armenia trade is also underway via Nurduz border in East Azerbaijan Province.
Latifi said commercial exchanges with Turkey are carried out via Razi railroad, adding that land roads are also active.
However, he added, flights between Iran and Turkey have not resumed operations.
Turkey cancelled flight permits to and from Iran and Afghanistan last week amid the outbreak of coronavirus, Reza Jafarzadeh, the spokesperson of Iran Civil Aviation Organization, told Fars News Agency.
Turkey had gradually restarted international flights as of June 11, as it eased lockdown measures, Daily Sabah reported.