EghtesadOnline: A total of 5.45 million tons of agricultural products worth $3.84 billion were exported from Iran during the first eight months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Nov. 20), showing a 27% and 13% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year, according to the technical affairs deputy with the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Agro products accounted for 7.26% and 18.87% of the volume and value of Iran’s overall exports respectively during the eight-month period,” Mehrdad Jamal Orounaqi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“Our main exported products were unshelled and shelled pistachio, tomato and tomato paste, watermelon and apple, which together made up close to 1.52 million tons of the total agro exports worth $1.31 billion. Exports of these products registered a 7% and 30% increase in volume and value respectively year-on-year.”
The official said exports of unshelled pistachio stood at 109,000 tons worth $675 million and those of shelled pistachio amounted to 10,000 tons worth $118 million, indicating an 82% and 37% rise in value YOY.
Some 175,000 tons of tomato paste worth $133 million tons were exported over the same period, showing a 128% and 49% respective YOY increases.
Apple exports were at 291,000 tons worth $105 million, registering a 55% rise and 6.25% fall in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Iran exported 7.1 million tons of agricultural and food products worth over $5.82 billion in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19 to register a 2.34% rise in tonnage and 8.93% decline in value compared to the year before, the Agriculture Ministry reported.
In-shell pistachio (fresh and dried) topped the list of exports in terms of value, as the country exported $724.2 million worth of the crop during the period.
Apple was the second major exported agricultural product in terms of value with $362.27 million followed by tomatoes with $259.21 million, unshelled pistachios with $240.58 million and watermelon with $175.97 million.
In term of tonnage, watermelons topped the list with 748,090 tons, followed by apples with 740,220 tons, tomatoes with 572,940 tons, potatoes with 480,440 tons, and onions and Persian shallot with 394,990 tons.
Driver of GDP Growth
Latest data released by the Statistical Center of Iran show the agriculture sector experienced a 1.7% GDP growth during March 20-Sept. 21, compared with the corresponding period of last year.
This is while Iran’s overall gross domestic product saw a contraction of 1.9% during the period. Economic growth, excluding oil, stood at -1.3%. “Industries and mining, excluding oil” experienced a growth of 2%. The “industries and mining” contracted 0.7% and “services” sector contracted 3.5%.
SCI also reported economic growth in the second quarter of the current year (June 21-Sept. 21), such that Iran’s GDP expanded 0.2% in Q2 while it shrank 0.2%, excluding oil sector. The “agriculture” sector saw a 2.7% expansion; “industries and mining” 4% while “industries and mining sector, excluding oil” expanded by 4.2%. The “services” sector, however, contracted by 3% in Q2.
According to SCI, gross domestic product saw a contraction of 3.5% during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (March 20-June 20) compared to the corresponding period of last year. Economic growth, excluding oil, stood at -1.7%.
A sectoral breakdown of growth rates in the report shows only the agriculture sector experienced growth with a meager rate of 0.1%. The industries and services sectors contracted by 4.4% and 3.5% respectively.
Iran’s economy shrank by 6.9% in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20). Excluding the oil sector, the rate stood at -0.5%.
Only the agriculture sector experienced growth with 2.8% last year. The sectors of industries and services contracted by 14.7% and 0.7%, respectively.
Overall Non-Oil Trade
Iran’s overall non-oil foreign trade hit 97.7 million tons worth $44.6 billion in the eight months leading to Nov. 20.
According to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, exports accounted for 75 million tons worth $21.5 billion and imports constituted 21.8 million tons worth $23.1 billion.
Compared with the corresponding period of last fiscal year (March 21-Nov. 21, 2019), exports registered a 14% and 19% decline in weight and value respectively. Imports saw a respective 1% and 18% decrease in weight and value year-on-year, he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Imports of essential goods accounted for 15.2 million tons (about 70%) of the total imports.
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.
Mirashrafi said the main export destinations over the period included Iraq and China with $5.3 billion each, the UAE with $2.7 billion, Turkey with $1.6 billion and Afghanistan with $1.5 billion.
Noting that pistachio was Iran’s fourth biggest export product during the period, the IRICA chief said, “Each kilogram of pistachio was exported at $6, compared with the average 30 cent per kilogram of Iran’s exports. Top exporters to Iran were China with $6 billion, the UAE with $5.4 billion, Turkey with $2.6 billion, India with $1.4 billion and Germany with $1.1 billion.”
A total of 4.47 million tons of cargo were transited across the country over the period, indicating a 15% decline YOY, he added.
Notably, Iraq stood above China by a narrow margin when it comes to exports from Iran. The neighboring country began to overtake China as Iran’s biggest destination since last fiscal month.