EghtesadOnline: This year’s seasonal ban on rice imports has been postponed and will come into effect on Sept. 22 instead of the previously announced date (July 22), according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration’s deputy for technical affairs.
Mehrdad Jamal Orangi added that importers have time to go through the clearance procedures of their rice consignments until Sept. 22, the website of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reported.
The official noted that more than 800,000 tons of rice have been imported into the country since the beginning of the current Iranian year on March 20, which shows a 20% decline compared with the similar period of last year. Around 390,000 tons of the total amount have undergone clearance.
Importers of the remaining consignments, he said, have not yet been able to obtain forex for their cargos through the Central Bank of Iran and cannot undertake clearance procedures.
“If rice importers manage to procure foreign exchange before this date, clearance will take place, but this won’t be allowed after the aforementioned date,” Orangi said.
Every year, during the rice harvest season, the government bans rice imports in support of local farmers and domestic production. The ban usually lasts until November.
A total of 2.9 million tons of rice were produced in the country during the last Iranian year (March 2019-20), registering close to a 45% increase compared with the previous year, according to the director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s Grains and Essential Goods Bureau.
“This increase in rice output is because of the favorable weather and heavy precipitations during February and March of 2019, due to which land under rice cultivation increased by 38% to reach 834,000 hectares,” Faranak Aziz Karimi said.
The northern Gilan and Mazandaram provinces together account for 71% of Iran’s rice production, according to figures released in a recent report of the Statistical Center of Iran.
As per a recent decision made by the Market Regulation Headquarters on June 4, customs duties on rice imports have decreased from 25% to 10%, Fars News Agency reported.
Since March 20, the government has discontinued the allocation of foreign currency at the subsidized rate of 42,000 rials per dollar for rice import; it has instead called on importers to meet their forex requirements from the export earnings of non-oil products (petrochemicals, steel and minerals) traded through the so-called secondary FX market that has exchange rates much closer to the free market rates.
The decline in rice import duty aims to prevent a surge in prices.
Iranians annually consume 3.2 million tons of rice. Domestic production annually amounts to around 2.2 million tons, but last year the figure increased due to favorable weather and high precipitation levels.
The difference between domestic production and local need is imported from the UAE, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Iraq.