By Maysam Bizær, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
What Iran’s first non-oil trade surplus means for its economy
Iran’s non-oil balance of trade turned positive in the past Iranian year, which ended March 19. The $916 million trade surplus is the country’s first since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. On April 4, President Hassan Rouhani hailed it as an achievement that the country secured despite international sanctions as well as low oil prices.
“Last year, non-oil exports exceeded non-oil imports for the first time since the Islamic Revolution. Progress has been achieved through the support and participation of the people as well as their unity,” Rouhani said.
Figures published by Iran’s Customs Administration for the past Iranian calendar year put non-oil exports at $42.4 billion and imports at $41.5 billion. The non-oil trade balance turned positive as exports witnessed declines of 16.1% and imports declined by 22.5%, compared with the same period in the previous Iranian year.
Ali Mohammad Goodarzi, adviser to the minister and head of public relations and the communications center at the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, believes that the government’s policies played a direct role in achieving a positive trade balance.
“The government’s success in the talks with the P5+1 countries (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) over Iran’s nuclear program, improvement of the business environment, incremental return of Iran to the global economy and the creation of mutual trust between Iran and the European Union are among the factors that led to a positive trade balance,” Goodarzi told Al-Monitor.
As for the domestic policies, the Iranian official believes that “controlling the country’s inflation as well as export-oriented strategies and monetary discipline of the government” have also played a role.