EghtesadOnline: The government has added 800 items to the list of banned imports since last fiscal year (started March 21, 2019), which bring the total number of banned imported commodities to 2,400, the head of Trade Promotion Organization, Hamid Zadboum, said.
Two years ago, the government banned imports of 1,339 items categorized as “Group Four”—products that are deemed “non-essential” and have domestic counterparts—in a move to economize on foreign currency amid US sanctions.
The Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade was then tasked with identifying more imports that were either unnecessary, or those which could be produced by local enterprises.
The number of banned imported goods reached 1,600 items last year.
“Eighty-four percent of Iran’s $11 billion worth of imports during the first four months of the current year [March 20-July 21] was either intermediate [producer goods] or capital goods. Rice, bananas and cellphones were the main items of the country’s imports of consumer goods [final goods]. Essential goods like rice were included in the import list of consumer goods,” Zadboum was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Latest data provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show a total of 13.8 million tons of goods worth $13.7 billion were imported into Iran during the first five months of the current fiscal year to register a 22.7% decline in value from the similar period of last year.
Top five exporters to Iran were China with 1.33 million tons worth $3.55 billion and a share of 25.9% from Iran’s total imports, the UAE with 1.7 million tons of non-oil goods worth $3.18 billion and a 23% share, Turkey with 2 million tons worth $1.47 billion and a 10.7% share, India with 1.1 million tons of non-oil goods worth $941 million and a 6.8% share and Germany with 548,000 tons of goods worth $661 million and a 4.8% share.
Essential goods made up 9.7 million tons of Iran's total 13.8 million tons of imports. In fact, essential goods, raw materials and machinery constituted 85% of total imports during the five-month period.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
Amid high inflation and diminished purchasing power, the Iranian government has sought to ensure a steady supply of essential goods at subsidized prices.
Last fiscal year's (March 2019-20) imports stood at 35.3 million tons worth $43.7 billion. Raw materials, machinery and intermediate goods accounted for 85% of the imports.
“China was also the top exporter to Iran last year, selling $11.2 billion worth of non-oil goods to Iran last year. The UAE with $8.9 billion, Turkey $4.9 billion, India $3.6 billion and Germany with $2.1 billion worth of exports to Iran were Iran’s other key trade partners in imports," IRICA Chairman Mehdi Mirashrafi has been quoted as saying.
The imports chiefly included materials used in the manufacturing sector, livestock feed, essential goods, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Last year’s imports of livestock feed and essential goods were 3 million tons more compared with the year before.
IRICA’s numbers show intermediate goods worth $29.7 billion and capital goods worth $5.9 billion were imported into the country last year. Consumer goods constituted 8% of total imports last year, according to the official.
A total of 25.09 million tons of essential goods worth close to $15.5 billion were imported into Iran during the last fiscal year (March 2019-20) to register a 20.77% and 17.13% increase in weight and value respectively, compared with the year before, according to the spokesman of IRICA, Rouhollah Latifi.
This amount of essential goods’ imports accounted for close to 71% and 35% of the volume and value of last year’s total imports respectively, the official was quoted as saying by ISNA.
“Imported essential commodities included wheat, sugar, corn, rubber, barley, processed tea, rice, different kinds of seeds, red meat, soybeans, pulses, paper, fertilizers and industrial machinery,” he said.