Revenue from petrochemical exports in the 11 months of the last Persian year that ended on March 20 jumped 44% compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Iran’s Ministry of Industry , Mines and Trade (IMT).
Iran exported more than $22.6 billion worth of petrochemicals and base oils during the period, up from $15.6 billion the previous year. Mineral sales increased 79% to $11.5 billion.
The rise of petrochemical and mineral exports testifies to the changing industrial landscape of Iran, where the highest authorities, including the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, have stressed the need to move towards the sale of value-added products rather than crude oil.
Like its oil industry, Iran’s petrochemical and mining industries are subject to US sanctions, but the wide variety of their products and strong international demand make them unsanctionable.
The rush to boost non-oil exports has involved tapping into new markets. The sheer diversity of these markets and the products they deal in make them easier to conceal from exposure to illegal U.S. sanctions than grades of oil.
The number of items on the list exported by Iran last year stood at more than 30.
Gas export earnings rose 84% to $4.8 billion, with Turkey and Iraq being Iran’s main markets. Methanol sales soared 88% to $1.9 billion. Iran is the largest exporter of methanol to China, which is the world’s largest importer and accounts for around 60% of global consumption.
China is also the biggest importer of polyethylene, the most common plastic. Iran’s overall exports of the substance in four grades exceeded $3.7 billion during the period.
Propane exports increased 88% to $1.6 billion, butane exports increased 99% to over $1 billion, and urea sales increased 142% to $1.5 billion . Iran also sold $1.2 billion in bitumen and $715 million in gasoline, a strategic fuel in which the country has achieved self-sufficiency under sanctions.
In the mining sector, metal sales increased by more than 90% to $10.4 billion. Over $1 billion of non-metallic products were also exported during the period.
Iran is a major steel producer, aiming to export 20 to 25 million tonnes of metal per year by 2025.
Its agricultural production is also immense. The country is the world’s largest producer of pistachios, but its position is threatened by the United States.
Last year, popular snacking exports fell 35% to $656 million. Overall, Iran exported $4.7 billion worth of agricultural products in the 11 months of the last Persian year, down 15% from the previous year.
Handicraft exports rose 119% to $122 million, but sales of handwoven carpets, once one of Iran’s top non-oil exports, fell to $56 million.
Industrial exports, including polymers, textiles, apparel and footwear, machinery and equipment, household appliances, electrical and electronic products, cellulosic products, vehicles and medicines, brought in more than $4 billion revenue, up 31% from a year ago.