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Sharp Decline In Iran's Trade With India, Japan And South Korea

INDIA -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Iranian President Hassan Rohani release a postal stamp commemorating growing economic and trade ties between the two nations in New Delhi, February 17, 2018

New data released by Iran's major trading partners show a significant drop in Iranian imports, as well as the nations' exports to Iran.

The Indian Ministry of Finance shared data Wednesday showing a 23-fold drop in India's imports from Iran in the first seven months of 2020.

India imported $3.2 billion of products from Iran in the first seven months of 2019, with that figure dropping to a meager $140 million in the same period in 2020.

India's Ministry of Finance also reported that the nation's exports to Iran also fell by 45 percent to $1.575 billion.

For the first time, the trade balance between Tehran-New Delhi appears to be to the detriment of Iran, and India's exports to Iran have been eleven times more than its imports to the Islamic Republic.

Following China, India was previously Iran's largest oil customer, but has currently not bought any crude oil from Iran since the second half of 2019. India's total imports also nearly halved to $88 billion in the first seven months of 2020, suggesting that India's imports of non-oil products from Iran may have also fallen sharply.

Iranian customs have not published detailed statistics on Iran's non-oil foreign trade since March 2019. Still, data released in 2018 shows that Iran's non-oil exports to India totaled more than $2 billion.

The decline in Iran's total exports to $140 million in the first seven months of 2020 shows that in addition to the cessation of oil exports, sales of Iranian non-oil goods to India have also fallen sharply.

China, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey have also released seven-month trade reports with Iran. For the first time, Iran's seven-month trade balances with all of those nations have been negative.

Iran's exports to Turkey dropped from $3 billion to $580 million, and Iran's imports from the nation also fell by 31 percent to $1.12 billion, indicating that Turkey's exports to Iran have been twice more than its imports from its Iranian neighbors.

At the same time, Iran's exports to South Korea fell from $2.1 billion to below $7 million, and its imports fell from $282 million to $105 million, showing that Iran's exports to South Korea have become almost non-existent.

Iran's exports to Japan also fell from about $1.2 billion to $22 million, though the nation's imports from Japan also increased by 32 percent to $45 million.

Before U.S. sanctions were imposed on Iran, Japanese and South Korean exports to Iran were significant. In 2018, South Korea's exports to Iran amounted to $2.3 billion, and Japan's were $725 million.

As Iran's largest trading partner, China still maintains a large trade volume with Iran, but Iran's seven-month exports to China also fell 61 percent to $ 3.5 billion. Iran's imports from China decreased by six percent during the same period to $5.12 billion.

Moscow is also one of Tehran's major trade partners, but Russian customs reported only four-month trade figures related to Iran in May. Cuba and Iran are the only countries that the Russian report is silent about concerning their annual trade with Moscow.

Based on the report, Iran imported $542 million of Russian products and exported$ 205 million of commodities to Russia over four years. Since then, Russian customs have removed Iran from its foreign trade list altogether and have not released any data on Iran in its new reports.

The European Union has so far released six-month statistics on trade with Iran, which does not show much change compared with the first half of 2019, but indicates a sharp drop compared with the same period in 2018.

Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates are also among Iran's major trade partners but have not released figures related to Iran in 2020.