EghtesadOnline: A total of 21.4 million tons of essential goods worth $10.84 billion were discharged from customs offices during the 11 months to Feb. 18, according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Total imports stood at 30.81 million tons worth $34.32 billion during the period; 25 groups of essential goods accounted for 69% of weight and 31.5% of value of overall imports,” he was quoted as saying by IRIB News.
According to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, imports of 25 items of essential goods stood at 21.4 million tons worth $11 billion during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year (March 20, 2020-Feb. 18) while imports saw a respective 6% and 15% decline in weight and value year-on-year.
“Five types of essential goods, namely corn, barley, oilseeds, raw oils and soybean meal, were imported at a subsidized rate of 42,000 rials per US dollar weighing 15.5 million tons worth $6.86 billion. They accounted for 72% of overall essential goods imports in terms of weight and 63% of overall essential goods imports in terms of value,” Latifi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
“Corn imports stood at 9.12 million tons worth $2.29 billion during the period under review; it was the top subsidized imported commodity both in terms of weight and value. They accounted for 42% of the weight and 21% of the value of essential goods imports,” he said.
It was followed by 13,560 tons of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment worth $1.48 billion, 2.04 million tons of oilseeds worth $1.07 billion; 1.03 million tons of edible oils worth $895.96 million; 1.61 million tons of soybean meal worth $693.78 million; and 1.7 million tons of barley worth $422.1 million.
Among other essential goods imported during the period were 2.92 million tons of wheat worth $813.31 million, 849,837 tons of rice worth $776.11 million, 1.01 million tons of raw sugar worth $370.66 million, 57,258 tons of dried tea worth $286.54 million and 44,459 tons of manufacturing machinery worth $255.85 million.
According to Latifi, paper pulp worth $175 million, publication paper worth $171 million, fertilizers worth $144 million, pulses worth $134 million, frozen red meat worth $126 million, seeds worth $78 million, heavy duty tires worth $77 million, pesticides worth $57 million, butter worth $40 million, fresh red meat worth $29 million and print paper worth $4.2 million were the other essential commodities imported during the period.
Imam Khomeini Port Hub of Essential Goods Imports
Imam Khomeini Port in the southern Khuzestan Province is at the forefront of essential goods imports.
Cargo handling procedures in Imam Khomeini Port are applied in compliance with health guidelines despite the lockdown that has come into force at the port due to the outbreak of the more-contagious UK variant of Covid-19.
According to Gholamabbas Bahraminia, the director general of Khuzestan Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization, 40,000 tons of goods are being loaded at Imam Khomeini Port daily.
“The cleaning and disinfection of surfaces are carried out at the port terminal round the clock. Furthermore, an ambulance, a medical doctor and a nurse are stationed at the clinic of the freight terminal,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban development.
Since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 19, 2020), more than 11.6 million tons of essential goods, including wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, soybean meal, sugar, rice and vegetable oils, have been transported from Imam Khomeini Port to different parts of the country, he said recently.
Imam Khomeini Port saw the inauguration and ground-breaking ceremonies for 18 investment and development projects worth 15.79 trillion rials ($63 million) on Dec. 30.
The event was attended by Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami and CEO of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran Mohammad Rastad, Fars News Agency reported.
Among the most important inaugurated projects were four multipurpose warehouses, oil product reservoirs and a mechanized grain terminal.
Also, two projects for the construction of edible oil factories began on the same day.
Other projects included the overhaul of wharfs and railroads inside Imam Khomeini Port’s premises, dredging operations, fixing breakwaters and providing proper lighting for the port’s launchers.
Close to 90% of Iran’s demand for livestock feed raw material as well as 79% of grains are imported through this southern port.
Last year (March 2019-20), the port handled nearly 15.7 million tons of essential goods.
According to Director General of Khuzestan’s Ports and Maritime Organization Adel Deris, Imam Khomeini Port enjoys 40 wharfs, 140 kilometers of railroads within its premises and is equipped with the latest loading and unloading facilities.
In the last fiscal year (March 2019-20), 3 million tons of goods were transported from this port via 53,000 wagons.
Imam Khomeini Port was the second busiest port after Shahid Rajaee Port during the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Sept. 21), handling more than 18.17 million tons of commodities. The figure shows a 19.91% fall year-on-year.
Non-oil goods accounted for 12.81 million tons and oil products for close to 5.36 million tons of the total throughput at Imam Khomeini Port over the six-month period, registering an 11.59% and 34.61% fall respectively YOY.
“A total of 4 million tons of essential goods were imported to Iran during the 10 months to Jan. 19,” Amir Talebi, an official with Government Trading Corporation of Iran, said recently.
“Imam Khomeini Port accounts for 45% of essential goods imports since the beginning of the current Iranian year [March 20], Bandar Abbas, a southern port city in Hormozgan Province, constituted 31% and Chabahar in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan accounted for 17% of total imports; the remaining volume entered the country via northern ports,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA in January.
According to Mojgan Khanlou, a senior official with the Plan and Budget Organization of Iran, the government is allowed to gradually discontinue the allocation of subsidized forex to import essential goods during the first half of the fiscal 2021-22.
“Prices will increase to some extent and demand will decline and a relative recession will come eventually. Food and related industries are likely to experience a relative recession by the end of the year and the beginning of the new Iranian year,” Kaveh Zargaran, the chairman of the commission and secretary of the Federation of Iranian Food Associations, said.
Imports of all essential goods, except corn, declined this year compared with last year, Domestic Commerce Commission of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture recently reported, citing figures released by the Central Bank of Iran.