EghtesadOnline: Iran traded 50.41 million tons of non-oil commodities worth over $19 billion with its 15 neighboring countries during the first seven months of the current fiscal year (March 20-Oct. 21), according to the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“The neighboring states accounted for about half of Iran’s overall foreign trade,” IRNA quoted Mehdi Mirashrafi as saying.
Iran’s exports to its neighbors stood at 41.81 million tons worth $11 billion during the period.
Among neighboring states, Iraq was the top destination of Iranian products during the seven months with $4.5 billion worth of imports.
The UAE and Turkey came next with $2.27 billion and $1.48 billion respectively.
Imports were at 8.59 million tons worth $8 billion. The UAE was the leading exporter of non-oil products to Iran during the period, with 2.55 million tons worth $4.72 billion.
Turkey and Russia followed with $2.23 billion and $671 million respectively.
The above figures indicate a non-oil trade surplus of $3 billion was registered in favor of Iran during the period.
Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Oman, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Armenia, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are Iran’s 15 neighboring countries.
Iran’s total non-oil foreign trade stood at 84.8 million tons worth $38.27 billion during the period under review.
The volume of trade in the corresponding period of last year (March 21-Oct. 22, 2019) stood at $49.57 billion, indicating that commercial exchanges have declined by about 23% year-on-year.
Exports accounted for 65.57 million tons worth $18.23 billion and imports constituted 19.33 million tons worth $20.04 billion of the total sum.
In other words, Iran recorded $1.81 billion in trade deficit during the period.
Compared with the corresponding period of last year (March 21-Oct. 22, 2019), exports registered a 17.5% and 23% decline in tonnage and value respectively.
Iran's imports during last year's corresponding period stood at 19.8 million tons worth $25.17 billion. This means imports during March 20-Oct. 21 registered a slight increase in tonnage, but a 20% decline compared to last year's corresponding period.
Imports of essential goods accounted for 13.8 million tons of the total imports.
Corn was one of the main imported goods with 5.8 million tons compared with 5.1 million tons in last year’s corresponding 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.
Iraq Overtakes China as Main Export Destination
Iraq overtook China as Iran's main export destination with $4.8 billion worth of imports from Iran during the period.
Three border crossings with Iraq, namely Chazzabeh and Shalamcheh in southern Khuzestan Province and Mehran in the western Ilam Province, reopened for exports during all weekdays as of Sept. 12
Previously, amid the spread of the new coronavirus, customs procedures were carried out only on Sundays and Wednesdays at most border terminals with Iraq, except at the Khosravi checkpoint in western Kermanshah Province, which was open to trade during all weekdays, according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Chazzabeh was the last of seven official border crossings between the two countries that reopened after about six months following the outbreak of coronavirus. At the beginning of its reopening in late July, 30 trucks were allowed to cross the border. Now 170 trucks carry mainly vegetables and construction materials to the neighboring country via Chazzabeh each day.
“Each day, 300 trucks of Iran’s private sector carry fruit and vegetables, cucurbits, food, construction materials, minerals and steel products to Iraq through Shalamcheh into the neighboring country,” Ali Mousavi, an official with Arvand Free Trade Zone, said.
“Mehran was closed down for three whole months due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Two months after the outbreak, the border was opened for two days per week only,” Rouhollah Gholami, the director general of Ilam Customs Administration, was quoted as saying by the news portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
According to the official, Iran’s main exports through Mehran include agricultural products and foodstuff, plastic, glass, automotive spare parts, steel, tiles, ceramics and construction material.
An average of 300 trucks carrying Iran's export goods cross Mehran border to Iraq every day.
Last fiscal year (March 2019-20), exports from Mehran checkpoint stood at $1.18 billion.
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.
Iran exported more than 25.68 million tons of goods worth $8.99 billion to Iraq in the last fiscal year. It also exports to Iraq through border crossings with the Kurdish region of the neighboring country, namely Bashmaq, Parvizkhan and Tamarchin, which have been open all along the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid restrictions imposed by the Iraqi government on cross-border trade due to the spread of the new coronavirus, Iran has been directing the bulk of its exports to the neighboring country through borders with the Iraqi Kurdistan.
About 8.1 million tons of goods worth $3.8 billion were exported from Iran to Iraq through the Iraqi Kurdistan Region during the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, according to the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
The exports accounted for 42% of Iran’s total exports to Iraq in terms of value and for over 31% in terms of tonnage during the period.