EghtesadOnline: Over 23 million tons of essential goods worth $12 billion were imported into Iran during the last Iranian year (March 2020-21), according to the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“The lion’s share of this sum amounting to 13.44 million tons worth $3.74 billion pertained to livestock and poultry feed. This volume accounted for 58% and 31% of the weight and value of last year’s total essential goods imports respectively,” Rouhollah Latifi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
The spokesman noted that corn stood at 9.78 million tons worth $2.5 billion, soymeal reached 1.82 million tons worth $793.94 million and barley constituted 1.83 million tons worth $457.32 million.
“Some 2.34 million tons of oilseeds worth $1.25 billion, in addition to 1.14 million tons of refined edible, semi-solid, liquid and unprocessed oils worth $1.06 billion, were imported during the period under review,” he added.
The imports also included 14,798 tons of human medicine as well as medical equipment worth $1.64 billion and a total of 451,000 tons of livestock and poultry medicines worth $64.16 million.
“Our food imports also included 936,809 tons of rice worth $868.53 million, 3.02 million tons of wheat worth $841.23 million, more than 1.01 million tons of unrefined sugar worth $370.66 million, 64,822 tons of dried tea leaves worth $329.12 million, 175,260 tons of different kinds of pulses worth $144.04 million, 30,487 tons of frozen or cold heavy livestock meat worth $133.27 million, 9,801 tons of butter worth $51.46 million and 4,422 tons of light livestock meat worth $29.17 million,” Latifi said.
According to the spokesman, imports of essential goods for industrial purposes and production mainly consisted of 51,415 tons of industrial machinery worth $510.8 million, 207,583 tons of different types of paper worth $190.1 million, 231,064 tons of paper pulp worth $181.06 million, 252,204 tons of fertilizers worth $153.08 million, 9,074 tons of pesticides and insecticides worth $86.27 million and 6,019 tons of seeds of different kinds of plants worth $83.63 million.
The IRICA spokesman concluded that 76,716 tons of heavy vehicle tires worth $282.84 million were imported over the period.
China Tops List of Imports
According to Mehdi Mirashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, Iran imported 3.5 million tons of essential goods worth $9.7 billion from China, 5 million tons worth $9.6 billion from the UAE, $4.3 billion from Turkey, 2.2 million tons worth $2.1 billion from India and 1.2 million tons worth $1.8 billion from Germany in the year to March 20.
Iran’s total foreign non-oil trade stood at 145.7 million tons worth $73 billion in the fiscal 2020-21.
Exports accounted for 112 million tons worth $34.52 billion and imports constituted 34.4 million tons worth $38.5 billion of the sum.
Iran’s main exports included gasoline, natural gas, polyethylene, propane and pistachio, with the latter alone earning $1.2 billion.
“The main export destinations were China with 26.6 million tons worth $8.9 billion, Iraq with 25.6 million tons worth $7.3 billion, the UAE with 15.2 million tons worth $4.6 billion, Turkey with 6.3 million tons worth $2.5 billion and Afghanistan with 7 million tons worth $2.2 billion. These five countries imported more than 80 million tons of non-oil goods worth $25.7 billion,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
China, Iran’s biggest trading partner, accounted for 26% of Iran's total non-oil exports, as 26.58 million tons of non-oil goods worth $8.95 billion were shipped from Iran to China during the period.
Pistachio, nuts, minerals, construction materials, methanol, carpet, iron ore, glassware and fruits were the main goods exported from Iran to China in the last fiscal year.
Imports from China totaled 3.54 million tons worth $9.76 billion during the year to March 20, 2021, to account for 10.6% of the total volume of Iran's imports and 25.3% of the total value of imports during the period. Industrial machinery and raw materials, medical equipment, paper, wood, textile, auto parts and sports equipment were Iran's main imports from the South Asian state in the fiscal 2020-21.
“Iran’s foreign trade declined by 25 million tons due to sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic,” the IRICA chief said, adding that the country’s trade deficit stood at $4 billion.
Imports in Current Year
The government will allocate $6 billion to imports of essential goods at the subsidized rate of 4,200 rials per dollar in the first six months of the current Iranian year (started March 21), First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said.
Imports of pharmaceuticals and medical devices needed by Health Ministry will receive $1.5 billion of the sum and the rest will be allocated to the Agriculture Ministry and the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade for importing other essential goods, he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
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 for importing essential goods during the first half of the fiscal 2021-22.
“Prices will increase to some extent, demand will decline and a relative recession will prevail eventually,” Kaveh Zargaran, secretary of the Federation of Iranian Food Associations, said.
Up to 2.8 million tons of essential goods, including rice, vegetable oils and unprocessed sugar, that were purchased in the last Iranian year (March 2020-201) will be imported during the first five months of the current year (March 21-Aug. 22), Amir Talebi, a senior official with Government Trading Corporation of Iran said recently.