On 9 January, the Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade, Reza Rahmani, lifted the ban on exports of fresh tomatoes and tomato products for a duration of 40 days. The ban came into effect last October and had already been temporarily lifted for a time at the end of November. In a directive addressed to the directorate of Iranian customs services, the minister approved the export of various types of tomato-based products between 10 January 2019 and 19 February 2019.
As a possible consequence of the ban on export shipments that came into effect for the last three months of the year, foreign sales of Iranian tomato paste dropped sharply in 2018, overall. The quantities exported (107 790 mT) decreased by 24% compared to 2017 results (141 421 mT) and by 17% compared to the average of the three previous years (129 101 mT over the period running 2015-2017).
The three main destination outlets for Iranian exports of tomato paste were particularly affected by this imposed suspension of activity. Sales to Iraq, which generally absorb more than 61% of Iranian exports in this sector, were reduced by 16% (from 82 200 mT in 2017 to 69 300 mT in 2018); the quantities exported to Afghanistan decreased by 17%, dropping from 40 600 mT in 2017 to 33 500 mT last year; similarly, only 1 500 mT of paste were shipped to Russia in 2018, against more than 5 900 mT in 2017 (which is a decrease of 74% over the whole year). Exports to a number of other destinations have also been heavily impacted, several of which deserve a mention: Kazakhstan (-73%), Turkmenistan (-71%) and the United Arab Emirates (-6 850 mT).
Consequently, revenue stemming from this sector recorded a sharp drop in 2018, with a result of close on USD 157 million against USD 196 million in 2017 (and USD 209 million in 2016).
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