Iran’s steel exports hit 675,000 tons in January
According to statistics released by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), major Iranian steelmakers exported 675,000 tons of steel in the first month of 2020.
They also exported 5.88 million tons of finished and semi-finished steel in the first 10 months of the current Iranian year, to January 20, a 25-percent increase year-on-year, reported Press TV.
The figures did not include exports by Iran’s small private sector mills which like other Iranian producers send the bulk of their products to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Iranian steel mills are monitoring the global market for any gap from falling Chinese exports in the wake of a coronavirus epidemic.
China is the world’s largest steel exporter, but overseas orders for Chinese steel are reportedly declining. According to S&P Global Platts, Turkey, Iran and Russia are in a race to fill the gap in the market.
Iran’s industrial metals, specifically steel, are the latest target in the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, but officials say the sector is unfazed and keeps growing.
In December, 2019, the US government launched the latest salvo in the campaign as it warned against exports of steel-making materials to Iran.
The US Department of State cautioned that those involved in transfers or exports to Iran of graphite electrodes and needle coke, which are essential materials for Iran’s steel industry, were at risk of sanctions regardless of their nationality or location.
However, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani put the damper on Washington’s haughty grandstanding, saying Iranian producers had obtained the technology to make graphite electrodes.
Iran is a leading producer of steel in the world, with officials saying exports continue despite the US sanctions.
The country plans to raise steel output to 55 million tons a year by 2025, of which 20 to 25 million tons would be earmarked for exports.
Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Jafar Serqini has said Iran currently has 35 million tons of steel production capacity. Iran’s steel exports will exceed 11 million tons this Iranian year.
Iran’s non-oil GDP growth to reach 1.8% despite sanctions
Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP), excluding the oil sector, is expected to register a positive growth rate of 1.8 percent in the current Iranian year (to end March 19), the Majlis Research Center said in a report on Iran’s economy.
“Although due to the significant negative growth rate of the oil sector, economic growth in the country will continue to be negative in 1398 [the current Iranian calendar year] but oil-free economic growth is estimated at 1.8 percent for the year,” the report said, icana.ir reported.
The report put the growth for the country’s agriculture, industry, energy, construction, and the service sectors at 5.5 percent, 1.5 percent, and 10 percent, as well as 14.5 and 0.5 percent, respectively, for the current Iranian year.
Last week, the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) reported that the country’s non-oil gross domestic product has recorded a positive growth rate of 0.9 percent in the third quarter of the current year (September 23-December 21, 2019).
The overall GDP growth, including oil production, however, stood at -1.7 percent for the period, according to new data provided by the head of the Statistical Center of Iran, Javad Hosseinzadeh.
Economic growth in the first three quarters was minus 7.6 percent. By excluding oil, the figure stands at zero percent.
The sectors of agriculture, industry, mines, and services registered growth rates of 3.2 percent, minus 16.6 percent, and minus 0.2 percent, respectively, for the three quarters.
Iran among top seven producers of gold, jewelry: Official
Iran is among the world’s top seven producers of gold and jewelry, but it has to work its way through the ranks to win a position as an exporter, the head of Tehran International Exhibition Center said.
Tehran is currently hosting Iran Gold Expo to introduce the country’s gold, silver, jewelry and precious stone products to the world and give local producers a chance to get up to date with global markets and value chains, Press TV wrote.
The head of Iran’s Gold and Jewelry Producers and Exporters Union Esfandiar Seifi said 130 companies from Iran, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Britain and Japan are participating in the exhibition held Feb. 12-15.
“In the field of gold and jewelry making, we are in a favorable position in the world and this exhibition can have a significant impact on the growth of exports,” he told IRNA.
He said Italy, Turkey, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Iran are the top gold and jewelry producers, but Iran is working to improve its position among the exporters.
Iran has stepped up production of precious metals to cushion its economy against the effects of new US sanctions which have triggered a flurry of panic buying of gold by some citizens.
According to officials, the country has revitalized small-scale gold and copper mines in the provinces of West and East Azarbaijan, Isfahan and South Khorasan.
The US decision in May 2018 to impose sanctions targeting Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals sparked a 200-percent jump in demand for gold bars and coins, after which the national currency lost more than half of its value.
That year, Iran hanged the “sultan of coins” who had reportedly been caught with two tons of gold coins.
The country possesses an estimated 340 tons of gold deposits, along with huge quantities of zinc, copper and iron.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, there are three standard gold mines with proven reserves of more than 100 tons each. Twelve other sites have reserves either close to or much less than a standard mine.
However, officials believe many gold mines have not been discovered yet and with more exploration, total reserves of 1,000 tons are not unthinkable.
Small-scale mining sites hold the key to the quest. For instance, Mouteh mine in the central Isfahan Province operated with an annual production of 230 kilograms for years but it hit record 600 kilograms in 2017 after receiving throughput from several smaller mines in the province.
Takab in northwest Iran is the gold hub of Iran, where two of the country’s three biggest gold mines are located, including Zarshuran with 110 tons of reserves.
Iran’s economy stepping out of recession: CBI
Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati announced that Iran’s economy is getting out of recession, while major economic indices are experiencing stability.
Despite some efforts made to present a dark image of Iran’s economic future, CBI data proves the economy to have relative stability, stepping out of recession, the governor said, according to Mehr News Agency.
“Main macro-economic indices including growth in the non-oil sector and the inflation rate are showing relative stability and incremental improvement besides stepping out of recession,” Hemmati wrote on his Instagram page.
“This is in contrast with what the enemies expected and sought to reach,” he added.
In earlier remarks, Hemmati had said that the government will exert every effort to improve the national economy.
He said “curbing inflation” is high on CBI’s agenda in a bid to achieve such a goal, adding that Iran has sufficient foreign exchange reserves to overcome any turbulence in the currency.
“Controlling the currency rate is the key step since turbulence in this market will have the worst impact on the economy.”
The top banker underscored the role of the newly launched Open Market Operation and changes in the CBI monetary policy to rein in galloping inflation.
He reiterated that CBI measures, however, should be accompanied by adopting effective and supportive policies to boost the non-oil sector of the economy.
Earlier this week, Iranian Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand also said the country has pulled itself out of economic recession, as the economic growth, without taking oil revenues into account, has been positive from March to November 2019 despite the US sanctions.
He made the remarks when elaborating on the government’s economic performance in the run-up to the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in an interview with Iranian state TV.
Iran bartering medicine for food with South Americans: Deputy minister
The head of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration said the country is bartering medicine produced in the country with food imported from South America.
Deputy Health Minister Mohammadreza Shanesaz said on Wednesday that a main aim of the barter program was to help Iranian pharmaceutical companies to thrive by providing them with broader access to export markets, Press TV reported.
“This program allows Iranian medicine to enter various countries and will cause exports to boom,” Shanehsaz told IRNA. “Through this, other countries will get to know the quality of medicine purchased from Iran as well as their affordable prices.”
The official said major economies often refuse to allow Iranian pharmaceuticals to become active in their markets because they fear the Iranian-made medicament could be a threat to their own products.
However, he said that the medicine for food barter scheme has been going on for a long time now, adding that it has nothing to do with the current state of the Iranian economy where the government is normally forced into barter programs to avoid American sanctions.
Iran has become a major pharmaceutical powerhouse in the Western Asia region thanks mainly to a continuous government support.
The support has paid off though as companies have managed to produce some of the highly-needed medicines whose delivery to Iran has been hampered by US sanctions.
Washington has denied that its sanctions have had any impact on the imports of food and medicine into Iran. However, the US Department of the Treasury recently issued a special permission for the trade of such humanitarian items with Iran through a new Swiss financial mechanism.
The total value of Iran’s mine and mineral industries stands at $22b, said Industry Minister Reza Rahmani on Wednesday, IRNA reported.