In the last few years, amid economic decline and hardships, one positive indicator has been the Iranian economy’s continuous trade surplus. Many expected the country’s export performance to collapse as a result of external sanctions. However, the sharp decline in crude oil exports was compensated for by the decline in imports and the modest growth in non-oil exports.
According to the March 2014 issue of Eqtessade Iran magazine (Iran Economics), the country’s trade surplus is projected to reach $40 billion in the Iranian year 1392 (that ended on March 20), up from $31 billion the previous year. Furthermore, growing exports will lead to a trade surplus of $62.5 billion in the new Iranian year 1393. In this picture, Iran’s non-oil exports — meaning all exports with the exception of crude oil and gas — will grow from $33 billion in 1392 to $37.7 billion in 1393. Based on the projections of Iran Economics magazine, non-oil exports will have a 11.5% share in the country’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in the new Iranian year. In 2009, non-oil exports represented a 7.2% share in the country’s GDP, only to fall as a result of sanctions and currency devaluation. The hardest hit non-oil export sectors were the petrochemical and automotive industries. Incidentally, the so-called plan of action agreed upon by Tehran and the P5+1 introduced a suspension of sanctions on the two mentioned sectors.