EghtesadOnline: Following the outbreak of coronavirus that forced the shutdown of almost all Iranian borders, some 88% of the country’s crossings have reopened for trade exchanges and passenger traffic, says Mojtaba Mousavian, deputy head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran.
"The remaining border crossings and export terminals will also reopen gradually, as negotiations with neighboring countries are underway," he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
"Iraq accounts for 23% of Iran's exports," he said. “We will do our utmost to boost exports to neighboring countries after the months-long challenges caused by the pandemic.”
According to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Gholamreza Ansari, Iran's 15 neighboring countries account for 47% of Iran's overall exports.
“Iranian border trade with neighboring states is underway through 30 cross-border customs offices observing protective health protocols,” said Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami recently in a recent videoconference with Turkmenistan's Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.
July 22-August 21 Foreign Trade
Iran’s foreign trade stood at $24.6 billion during the first five months of the current fiscal year (March 20-Aug. 21), of which exports accounted for $10.9 billion and imports constituted $13.7 billion, according to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Noting that Iran traded 51.8 million tons of goods during the period, the official said exports weighed 38 million tons and imports 13.8 million tons.
When compared with the corresponding period of last year (March 21-Aug. 22, 2019), exports and imports registered a 38.7% and 22.7% decline in value.
Iran’s foreign trade stood at $35.53 billion during the same period of last year, with exports hovering around $17.8 billion and imports at $17.73 billion.
According to a report by the Persian-language daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, Iran’s exports and imports during the month to Aug. 21 (fifth Iranian month) stood at $2.2 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively.
Exports and imports during the one month to July 21 stood at $2.33 billion and $3.28 billion.
Gasoline was the country’s top exported commodity during the first five months of the current year; $1 billion worth of gasoline were exported during the period under review, thanks to a decline in domestic demand and increase in production, Mirashrafi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, natural gas, liquid propane, and other light oils and petroleum products (except gasoline) were other major exported products.
Crude oil exports have not been taken into account in calculating Iran's export value and volume.
“China was Iran’s biggest export destination with 10.8 million tons of non-oil goods imports worth $3 billion during the five-month period to account for 28% of Iran’s total exports,” he said.
“It was followed by Iraq with 7.8 million tons worth $2.4 billion and a share of 22% of Iran’s total exports, the UAE with 5.9 million tons worth $1.55 billion and 14% share, Afghanistan with 2.6 million tons worth $871 million and an 8% share and Turkey with 1.06 million tons worth $513 million and a 4.7% share from Iran’s total exports.”
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.
Decline in Export Revenues
Export prices of iron ore, iron ore concentrate and copper declined by 40% in the first quarter of the current year (March 20-June 20,) suggesting that Iran's non-oil export earnings won’t exceed $30 billion by March 20, 2021, says Majid Reza Hariri, the chairman of Iran-China Chamber of Commerce.
“Global trade has dropped by 30% following the outbreak of coronavirus and Iran was no exception. Seven countries, including China, Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE and India, account for 75% of our foreign trade. Over 50% of Iran’s non-oil exports are headed to Iraq and China, all indicative of our export vulnerability. Losing one export market leads to disruptions in export equilibrium and consequences for the whole economy,” he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
“Natural gas, gas condensates, petrochemicals and unprocessed minerals make up 70% of Iran's exports. Covid-19 has pushed down demand for and the prices of these exporting items.
Hariri said running a trade deficit is not a new thing for Iran; the country’s non-oil exports are not large enough to afford the imports and over the past four years, imports have been on the decline.