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As Sanctions Take Hold, Iran Exports To U.S. Come To A Halt

People look at the carpets displayed at the Iran section of the Baghdad International Fair, in Baghdad, Iraq November 10, 2018. Picture taken November 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Iran’s exports to the United States has almost reached zero during September and October, a month after United States slapped its first round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, targeting the financial and industrial sectors.

According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, despite sharply declining Iranian exports to the U.S., Iran’s imports from the U.S. continue at their highest level.

U.S. exports to Iran started soaring from July 2018 and increased by 273% year-on-year to about $410 million in January-October.

Iran’s 10-month period exports to U.S. also increased by 35% to $67.5 million, due to a bump in July-August, but have significantly dropped since then.

Iran-U.S. trade turnover ($ million) Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2018
Iran-U.S. trade turnover ($ million) Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2018

Iran’s exports mostly include Persian carpets, dried fruit, pistachios. It imports mostly medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products from the United States.

Washington imposed sanctions on imports of Persian carpets from Iran in July.

Regarding the significant growth in Iran’s imports from US in September-October, it seems traders have attempted to purchase and import as many products as possible before the implementation of further sanctions or restrictions.

U.S. total trade

The trade balance with Iran has been positive in favor of the United States since 2008, but Washington suffers from huge amount of negative trade balance with other partners, especially China.

U.S. Census Bureau says the country’s total exports increased by 7.7% to $2,093 billion in the ten-month period, but trade balance deficit reached $502.71 billion, or $50bn more than January-October 2017.

The country exported less than $103 billion to China, but imported about $447 billion in ten months. The trade balance with EU also shows about $166 billion deficit.

US president Donald Trump has imposed heavy tariffs on Chinese goods, but the gap between import and exports remains huge.

These overall figures show that trade with Iran is a very small part of U.S. commerce with the world, but tacking commercial relation between the two countries is still important in the context of the prevailing adversarial relations.