Iran’s Top 10 Imports

Architecture in Iran (courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Architecture in Iran

Iranian imports amounted to US$41.2 billion in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -21.1% decrease since 2014 and a -20.1% dip from 2017 to 2018.

Officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Middle Eastern country is sometimes referred to as Persia.

Given Iran’s population of 83 million people, its total $41.2 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $500 in yearly product demand from every person in the Middle Eastern country.

Iran’s top suppliers accounting for about three-quarters (76.1%) of its international purchases were: China (24.9%), United Arab Emirates (13.8%), India (6.4%), Turkey (6.3%), Germany (5.9%), Switzerland (5.1%), South Korea (5%), Russia (3.3%), Italy (2.8%) then the United Kingdom (2.6%).

From a continental perspective, close to two-thirds (65.4%) of Iran’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 31.3% of import purchases. Smaller percentages came from Latin America (1.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, North America (0.5%), Oceania (0.4%) Australia and New Zealand only, then Africa (0.3%).

Iran’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Iran’s import purchases during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Iran.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$7.7 billion (18.6% of total imports)
  2. Cereals: $4.4 billion (10.5%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.7 billion (8.9%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $1.6 billion (3.8%)
  5. Vehicles: $1.5 billion (3.7%)
  6. Oil seeds: $1.5 billion (3.7%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.4 billion (3.4%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $1.4 billion (3.4%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $1.3 billion (3.1%)
  10. Iron, steel: $1.2 billion (2.9%)

By value, Iran’s top 10 imports accounted for 62.1% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported cereals generated the fastest-growing increase in cost among Iran’s top 10 import categories, up 27.7% from 2017 to 2018 propelled by higher purchases of corn, rice and barley.

In second place for improving import purchases were oil seeds, up 2.8%. Close behind came Iranian imports of organic chemicals delivering the third-fastest gain at 2.6%.

Leading the declining product categories year over year among Iran’s top 10 imports were vehicles (down -53.5%) and iron or steel (down -42.1%).

Also, see the section Searchable List of Iran’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Machinery

In 2018, Iranian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.

  1. Temperature-change machines: US$742.5 million (up 14.6% from 2017)
  2. Air or vacuum pumps: $613.7 million (up 17%)
  3. Miscellaneous machinery: $457.4 million (up 0.3%)
  4. Nuclear reactors, fuel elements: $386.1 million (up 1932.9%)
  5. Sort/screen/washing machinery: $317.5 million (down -15%)
  6. Computers, optical readers: $314.9 million (down -14.9%)
  7. Steam/vapor turbines: $306.1 million (up 8.8%)
  8. Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $223.2 million (up 11.1%)
  9. Liquid pumps and elevators: $223 million (down -18.6%)
  10. Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines: $214.7 million (down -30.4%)

Among these import subcategories, Iran’s purchases of nuclear reactors and fuel elements (up 1,933%), air or vacuum pumps (up 17%) then temperature-change machines (up 14.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery including computers among Iranian businesses and consumers.

Cereals

In 2018, Iranian importers spent the most on the following subcategories of cereals.

  1. Corn: US$2.1 billion (up 28.8% from 2017)
  2. Rice: $1.6 billion (up 34.1%)
  3. Barley: $602.8 million (up 16.2%)
  4. Buckwheat, millet, canary seed: $2.7 million (down -76.6%)
  5. Oats: $572,000 (up 40.2%)
  6. Wheat: $253,000 (down -98.8%)

Among these import subcategories, Iran’s purchases of oats (up 40.2%), rice (up 34.1%) then corn (up 28.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of cereals-related imports among Iranian businesses and consumers.

Electronics

In 2018, Iranian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics-related goods.

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: US$770.2 million (down -43.5% from 2017)
  2. Carbon electrodes/brushes, lamp or battery carbons: $654.9 million (up 195.6%)
  3. Electric generating sets, converters: $334.3 million (up 16.3%)
  4. TV/radio/radar device parts: $255.3 million (down -56.4%)
  5. Electric motors, generators: $123.5 million (down -35.6%)
  6. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $116.7 million (down -1.2%)
  7. Electrical converters/power units: $99.9 million (down -22.9%)
  8. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $98.4 million (down -35.3%)
  9. Filament/discharge lamps: $86.7 million (down -47.8%)
  10. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $80.9 million (down -27%)

Only two among these import subcategories grew in cost from 2017 to 2018. Imports of carbon electrodes and brushes for lamps or batteries rose 195.6%, ahead of electric generating sets and converters via the latter category’s 16.3% appreciation year over year.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electronics-related imports among Iranian businesses and consumers.

Pharma

In 2018, Iranian importers spent the most on the following subcategories of pharmaceuticals.

  1. Medication mixes in dosage: US$1.1 billion (down -1.7% from 2017)
  2. Blood fractions (including antisera): $374.4 million (up 10.2%)
  3. Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $53 million (down -7.2%)
  4. Packaged dressings: $16.5 million (down -9.1%)
  5. Medication mixes not in dosage: $16.5 million (down -2.4%)
  6. Dried organs, heparin: $1.8 million (down -41.7%)

Among these import subcategories, the only increase from 2017 to 2018 were Iran’s purchases of blood fractions including antisera thanks to its 10.2% acceleration.



 

Searchable List of Iran’s Most Valuable Import Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the top products imported into Iran are cars followed by corn, mobile phones, rice, drugs and medicines, soya beans then automotive parts or accessories.

The following searchable table displays 200 of Iran’s most in-demand imported goods during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankIran's Import Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Corn$2.1 billion+28.8%
2Rice$1.6 billion+34.1%
3Soya beans$1.2 billion+23.1%
4Medication mixes in dosage$1.1 billion-1.7%
5Phone system devices including smartphones$770.2 million-43.5%
6Temperature-change machines$742.5 million+14.6%
7Automobile parts/accessories$690.4 million-23.8%
8Carbon electrodes/brushes, lamp/battery carbons$654.9 million+195.6%
9Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues$651.2 million+29.4%
10Air or vacuum pumps$613.7 million+17%
11Barley$602.8 million+16.2%
12Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$556.8 million-17.5%
13Sun/safflower/cotton-seed oil$521.9 million+18.8%
14Frozen beef$478.7 million-14.9%
15Miscellaneous machinery$457.4 million+0.3%
16Cars$439 million-76.1%
17Nuclear reactors, fuel elements$386.1 million+1932.9%
18Blood fractions (including antisera)$374.4 million+10.2%
19Bananas, plantains$355.2 million-34.8%
20Electric generating sets, converters$334.3 million+16.3%
21Rubber tires (new)$319.4 million-25.3%
22Sort/screen/washing machinery$317.5 million-15%
23Computers, optical readers$314.9 million-14.9%
24Steam/vapor turbines$306.1 million+8.8%
25Tea (including flavored)$292.4 million+3.4%
26Palm oil$290.3 million-20.9%
27Sheep or goat meat$284.3 million+121.1%
28Uncoated paper for writing/printing$281.2 million-4.8%
29TV/radio/radar device parts$255.3 million-56.4%
30Wood fiberboard$240.9 million-46.2%
31Iron ferroalloys$237.2 million-27.7%
32Cellulose fiber paper$233.1 million-4.2%
33Orthopedic appliances$229.2 million-5.4%
34Dried shelled vegetables$223.4 million-38.7%
35Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$223.2 million+11.1%
36Liquid pumps and elevators$223 million-18.6%
37Trucks$216.8 million+3.6%
38 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $214.7 million-30.4%
39Butter, other milk fats/oils$212.4 million+8.1%
40Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$212.2 million+16.1%
41Iron or steel tubes, pipes$211 million-28.6%
42Rubber/plastic article making machines$210 million-21.3%
43Turbo-jets$207.3 million-24.4%
44Other food preparations$202.4 million-19.4%
45Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$202.2 million-19%
46Amino-resins$196.3 million-21.4%
47Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$195.6 million-9.6%
48Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$195.2 million-31.2%
49Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$188.1 million-24.9%
50Taps, valves, similar appliances$185.5 million-13.3%
51Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$182.7 million-18%
52Pipe/chewing/snuff tobaccos$180.9 million+84.5%
53Piston engines$176.9 million-15.7%
54Air conditioners$176.9 million-46.1%
55Coated paper$170.4 million-38%
56Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$169.7 million+17.5%
57Metal-casting machines$169 million-3.3%
58Uncombed synthetic staple fibers$167.6 million-30.1%
59Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$165.5 million-29.3%
60Piston engine parts$156.8 million-45.2%
61Flat-rolled stainless steel items$151.7 million-25.8%
62Processed petroleum oils$148.5 million+4.6%
63Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$137.8 million-1.7%
64Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$137.3 million-33.1%
65Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$137.1 million-58%
66Printing machinery$127.1 million-24.2%
67X-ray equipment$127.1 million-23.9%
68Coke, semi-coke$126.8 million+310.5%
69Sawn wood$125.9 million-17.3%
70Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$124.9 million-14.5%
71Refrigerators, freezers$124.8 million-54%
72Electric motors, generators$123.5 million-35.6%
73Natural rubber$122.6 million-14.3%
74Soya-bean oil$121.9 million-46.6%
75Regulate/control instruments$120.8 million-27%
76Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$116.7 million-1.2%
77Computer parts, accessories$116.6 million+66.2%
78Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$115.4 million-74.6%
79Ethylene polymers$113.3 million-38.3%
80Antibiotics$113.2 million-8%
81Textile fiber work machines$110.5 million-16.2%
82Acrylic polymers$110.2 million+8.5%
83Provitamins, vitamins$109.6 million+4.3%
84Industrial preparation machinery$107.1 million+25.1%
85Synthetic filament tow$106.9 million+47%
86Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$105.6 million-29.6%
87Sugar (cane or beet)$102.7 million-75.3%
88Other nitrogen compounds$99.9 million-25.5%
89Electrical converters/power units$99.9 million-22.9%
90Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$98.5 million+45.3%
91Lower-voltage switches, fuses$98.4 million-35.3%
92Synthetic filament yarn$97.1 million-26%
93Other coloring matter, luminophores$96.4 million-13.3%
94Oil seeds$94.3 million-22.5%
95Moulding boxes/base$92.5 million-14.4%
96Physical/chemical analysis tools$92 million-21.2%
97Milking machines, other dairy machinery$90.1 million+18.3%
98Synthetic rubber$88.6 million+0.4%
99Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$88 million-15.4%
100Other measuring/testing machines$87 million-12.2%
101Filament/discharge lamps$86.7 million-47.8%
102Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$86.6 million-32.7%
103Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$86.5 million-56.8%
104Other organic compounds$85.2 million+100.8%
105Industrial/laboratory non-electric furnaces, ovens$84.9 million-1.9%
106Calculators, accounting/ticket machines, cash registers$84.8 million-31.8%
107Synthetic organic coloring$84.4 million-17.6%
108Cyclic hydrocarbons$84 million-15.9%
109Fertilizer mixes$83.8 million+7.2%
110Miscellaneous plastic items$81.3 million-35.6%
111Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$80.9 million-27%
112Organo-sulphur compounds$80.7 million+6.6%
113Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$79.6 million-1.8%
114Ball, roller bearings$79.5 million-12.8%
115Propylene/olefin polymers$79.2 million-38.9%
116Industrial/laboratory electric furnaces, ovens$78 million+41.6%
117Pulp or paper-making machinery$77.8 million-45.2%
118Radar, radio communication items$73.8 million+34.8%
119Coal, solid fuels made from coal$73.8 million-12.6%
120Lifting/loading machinery$73.3 million-14.2%
121Base metal mountings, fittings$72.2 million-27.3%
122Industrial fatty acids and alcohols$71.9 million-5.7%
123Insulated wire/cable$71.6 million-23.7%
124Other diagnostic/lab reagents$70 million+14.7%
125Acyclic alcohols$69 million+1.7%
126Weaving machines (loom)$68.7 million-66.6%
127Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$67.9 million-35.6%
128Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$67.4 million-29.4%
129Amino-compounds (oxygen)$67.1 million+20.9%
130Rubber accelerators, plasticizers$67.1 million-1.7%
131Uncombed artificial staple fibers$66.6 million+40.2%
132Motorcycle parts/accessories$66.1 million-46.4%
133Wine/cider/fruit juices machinery$65.3 million+2616.8%
134Sunflower seeds$65 million-52.3%
135Metal-rolling mills$63.4 million-27%
136Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$62.9 million+1.4%
137Printed circuits$61.9 million-31.4%
138Aluminum foil (thin)$61.6 million-15.9%
139Washing machines$61.5 million-59%
140Electric storage batteries$61.4 million-24.6%
141Saturated acyclic mono acids$61.3 million-5.1%
142Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$61 million-7.6%
143Phosphatic fertilizers$58 million-49.7%
144Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$58 million-52.1%
145Machinery parts$55.3 million-39.7%
146TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$53.1 million-34.7%
147Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$53.1 million+53.6%
148Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$53 million-7.2%
149Iron or steel pipe fittings$52.7 million-36.9%
150Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$52.5 million+22.1%
151Integrated circuits/microassemblies$52 million-34.6%
152Potassic fertilizers$51.9 million-19.5%
153Glass fibers$51.9 million-18.8%
154Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$50.9 million-42.5%
155Hormones, miscellaneous steroids$49.7 million+23.3%
156Pulley tackle, hoists, winches$49.5 million-16.7%
157Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$49.1 million+0%
158Textile fabrics with plastics$49.1 million-53.5%
159Chemical industry products/residuals$48.1 million-28.5%
160Print/write/draw inks$47.9 million-0.2%
161Unrecorded sound media$47.6 million-28%
162Aluminum (unwrought)$47.4 million-37%
163Animal/vegetable hydrogenated fats, oils$47 million-33.2%
164Natural magnesite, fused magnesia$46.7 million+86.5%
165Railway or tram locomotives, rolling stock$45.8 million-81.5%
166Electric ignition/start equipment$45.7 million-39.8%
167Photographic plates/film, unexposed$45.6 million-9.2%
168Refractory ceramic bricks, blocks, tiles$45.6 million+62.8%
169Other organic cleaning preparations$45 million-36.4%
170Cocoa powder (no added sugar)$45 million+5.4%
171Prepared adhesives, glues$44.3 million-35.4%
172Engines (diesel)$42.5 million-6.2%
173Polyamides$42.5 million-27.7%
174Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$42.3 million-36.6%
175Petroleum oil residues$42.3 million-21.7%
176Unsaturated acyclic mono acids$42 million-7.1%
177Harvest/threshing machinery$41.1 million-44.2%
178Electric water heaters, hair dryers$41 million-61.5%
179Interchangeable hand/machine tools$40.8 million-39.5%
180Machines to assemble lighting goods$40.1 million-34.1%
181Paper containers, cellulose wadding$39.9 million-23.8%
182Impregnated/coated textile fabrics$39.7 million-39.8%
183Millstones, grindstones, grinding wheels$39.7 million-31.9%
184Auxiliary machines$39.4 million+23.8%
185Whole fish (frozen)$38.8 million-48.9%
186Lead (unwrought)$38.7 million+4%
187Phosphates, polyphosphates$38.2 million-7.7%
188Liquid/gas checking instruments$38.2 million-12.3%
189Vinyl chloride polymers$38.1 million-38.9%
190Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$37.8 million-20.5%
191Amine-function compounds$37.5 million-21.8%
192Primary batteries/cells$37.2 million-8%
193Mufflers, nozzles, plugs, tubes, pipes$36.7 million-18.6%
194Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$36.4 million-19.1%
195Paper wall coverings, wallpaper$36.1 million-53.8%
196Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$36.1 million-25.5%
197Machine-tool for metal$35.7 million-38.7%
198Trailers$35.7 million-44.5%
199Microphones/headphones/amps$35.4 million-54.6%
200Uncoated kraft paper$35.4 million-19.6%

These 200 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$33.2 billion or about four-fifths (80.5%) by value for all products imported into Iran during 2018.
 

See also Iran’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top 10 Exports and Top Middle Eastern Export Countries

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 17, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 27, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on July 17, 2019

Wikipedia, Iran. Accessed on October 27, 2018