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Import tonnages fell to 290,000 tonnes in March-December 2012 from 447,000 tonnes in the corresponding months in 2011.
Imports of hot dipped galvanized (HDG) coil and sheet, electro-galvanized coil and sheet and tinplate saw similarly dramatic falls of 18%, 300% and 56% respectively.
HDG imports went to 144,000 tonnes from 170,000 tonnes, electro-galvanized material imports to 51,0000 tonnes from 204,000 tonnes, and imports of tinplate to 65,000 tonnes from 102,000 tonnes.
The only coated flat product to see an increase in imports was pre-painted galvanized. Levels increased by 75% to 63,000 tonnes from 36,000 tonnes.
Imports of hot rolled plate and sheet also moved up by 31% to 237,000 tonnes from 180,000 tonnes.
International trading sanctions against Iran, along with the depreciation of the Iranian rial against hard currencies, are the two main factors behind the falls in imports.
“Nowadays we have a lot of difficulties with imports” a local trader commented.
“We cannot establish letters of credit in favour of any foreign supplier, and we are able to purchase material from just a few countries, such as Russia, China, South Korea and India, through barter business which has been set up by the Iranian government,” he explained.
“The value of the Iranian rial against hard currencies has plummeted to one-third [what it was], which means we have to pay three times more to import material,” he added, “while the price of those items in the local market has not increased as much.”
Iran’s imports of cold rolled coil (CRC) and sheet slumped by 54% in the first nine months of the Iranian year, from March 20 to December 20, 2012, according to Iranian customs data.