EghtesadOnline: Iran exported a total of 4.79 million tons of goods worth more than $1.75 billion to the Commonwealth of Independent States during the last Iranian year (March 2019-20) to register a 133% rise in value compared with the year before, according to the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Our main export destinations in the CIS region were Russia with more than $457 million, Azerbaijan with $429 million and Armenia with $231 million,” Rouhollah Latifi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official noted that around 1.17 million tons of commodities worth $1.56 billion were imported from the CIS states last year, registering a 10% year-on-year decline.
Latifi said Russia with $1.17 billion, Uzbekistan with $147 million and Kazakhstan with $104 million were the main exporters to Iran among CIS countries during the period.
“Iran’s overall trade with CIS members stood at $3.3 billion last year, with Iran registering a trade surplus of more than $205.15 million,” he added.
The Commonwealth of Independent States, also known as the Russian Commonwealth (in order to distinguish it from the Commonwealth of Nations), is a political and economic intergovernmental organization of nine member states, all of which are former Soviet Republics located in Eurasia (primarily in Central to North Asia), formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Moldova are permanent members and Turkmenistan has observer status in CIS.
Share in Total Foreign Trade
Iran’s foreign trade stood at $85 billion in the fiscal 2019-20, of which exports accounted for $41.3 billion and imports for $43.7 billion, according to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration said.
Noting that Iran traded over 169 million tons of goods last year, the official said exports weighed 133.9 million tons—three times as much as imports in weight and about 13.5% more than the previous year.
“In terms of value, however, exports show a 7% decline year-on-year. Imports reached 35.3 million tons in the fiscal 2019-20, indicating a 9.3% growth year-on-year. A trade deficit of $2.4 billion was registered for the country during the period. Raw materials, machinery and intermediate goods accounted for 85% of the imports,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The above figures show Iran's exports to and imports from CIS countries accounted for 4.23% and 3.56% of total exports and imports respectively in the last fiscal year.
Iran's trade with these states accounted for 3.8% of the country's total foreign trade during the period.
Iran-CIS trade stood at 5.54 million tons worth $2.82 billion in the fiscal 2018-19, registering a 29.26% and 22.14% increase in tonnage and value respectively compared to the previous year.
Iran’s exports totaled 2.94 million tons worth $1.23 billion during the period, indicating a 0.16% growth in tonnage and 0.08% decrease in value year-on-year. Imports stood at 2.59 million tons worth $1.58 billion, up 0.49% and 0.65% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Iran mainly exported pistachios, liquefied natural gas, kiwis, Portland cement, tomatoes, apples and dates to CIS countries. In exchange, major commodities imported into Iran from CIS nations included nuclear reactor parts, barley, sunflower oil, field corn, radio navigation devices and sheep carcasses.
Council for Rail Transport of CIS Members
Iran became a permanent member of the Council for Rail Transport of the Commonwealth of Independent States last year.
According to Director General of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Rasouli, Iran was previously an observer member of the council, but its status has transformed into permanent membership after it applied for it at the council’s 70th meeting in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, on May 14-15, 2019, Mehr News Agency reported.
Rasouli noted that the permanent membership will help Iran with its rail transit, as well as its imports and exports.
Turkmenistan, Armenia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Belarus are members of the council and Russia is now chairing it.
“Being a permanent member for Iran, which was previously an observer member, will help further expand rail transit between the country and Central Asian states. It will also have positive effects on its operations in the International North-South Transport Corridor that stretches from Europe to Southeast Asia,” Rasouli said.
INSTC is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia.