Dried Fruit

Dates: little confidence in Iran’s economic policy

April 27, 2020 1:22 PM, Der AUDITOR
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TEHRAN. Ramadan normally prompts a surge in demand and drives up prices. This year prices, however, range 40-50% lower than last year as Meydad Takallouzadeh from the National Association of Iranian Dates points out. Problem are the Covid-19 related export restrictions, which have a devastating impact on the market and the economy.

Concerns over accumulated debt

As the Iranian Dried Fruit Exporters’ Union remarks the export restrictions have caused severe financial and moral damage to the industry. Many factories have, in addition, been forced to close, but still need to pay salaries, insurance fees on other costs. This poses unknown financial problems as the full extent of the crisis will only transpire of the next few months. Market players are anxiously waiting for political support. Help should be forthcoming from the government as legislation is expected to permit delays and cancellations in business payments to banks and the government. Date producers state that the economic pressure could be reduced if mandatory payments can be postponed. Another help would be the payment of bank facilities, including fines and liabilities.

The government is expected to make provisions for such a scheme and to provide timeframes for mandatory payments such as insurances and taxes. Problem, however, is that such economic measures have severe drawbacks. As these provisions were adopted in times of drought, many manufacturing and commercial companies became highly indebted. The economy is, in fact, still struggling with the large amount of accumulated debt. Although activists are demanding that companies should be exempted from obligatory payments, that staff salaries should be axed while businesses are closed and that bank profits should be eliminated, it is highly unlikely that the government will adopt such measures.

Nominal rise in prices

Although Ramadan, which started on 25 April, has driven up international and domestic demand for dates, prices have only risen by around 4.2-4.6% over the last two weeks. The general price level is much lower than is normal for Ramadan. Stocks in the warehouses are high as exports are largely restricted. The nominal rise in prices is also driven by exchange rate fluctuations as the Iranian rial has gained in value.


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