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Iran's Customs Claims A 22 Percent Increase In Exports, With A Catch

Iranian customs checkpoint on a border crossing with Iraq in Kermanshah province. File photo

Iran’s customs chief has said that his country’s non-oil exports increased by 22 percent from March 21-September 21, compared with the same period last year, reaching 70 million metric tons.

He also said that the total value of these exports was close to $21 billion, but he did not mention the monetary value of exports last year.

Iran’s custom organization has not issued monthly reports on exports and imports in the current Iranian year, which started on March 21. But last year’s figures show that Iran had $23.1 billion non-oil exports in the same six-month period.

If the monetary value of exports last year and this year are compared, Iran’s exports declined by about ten percent. The increase the head of customs has mentioned would only apply to the tonnage of the exports and not their value.

He also announced that Iran’s imports in the first six months of the Iranian year was $21.3 billion, without mentioning last year’s imports, which totaled $25.1 billion, showing a 15 percent decline this year.

Still, if one compares the export and import figures Iran has announced, the trade gap seems to be within manageable limits. However, U.S. sanctions have stripped Iran of 90 percent of its oil revenues, which is the main source of income for the government to maintain its bureaucracy and the military.

Based on occasional media reports from Iran, it is clear that Tehran is withdrawing cash from its foreign currency reserve fund to close gaps in its expenditures.