Iran boosts steel output, exports in bid to buffer impact of sanctions

LONDON/MOSCOW - Iran is increasing steel exports and courting foreign investors in an ambitious bid to quadruple steel output in a decade and replace at least a small part of the massive revenue it loses due to sanctions on its oil sales.
A developing economy heavily reliant on construction, the Islamic Republic exported an average of 1.35 million tonnes of steel in 2011 and 2012, according to a presentation by Iran's top steelmaker, Mobarakeh Steel.
By contrast it exported 1.26 million tonnes of steel during the first seven months of this year, data from the Iran Steel Producers Association (ISPA) showed.
"Due to the fast expansion of the local production in recent years, Iran has a surplus of rebars, billets, IPE (I-beams) and other similar sections," said Bahador Ahramian, a member of the ISPA's board.
The bulk of Iran's steel exports go to the Middle East and north Africa, and can involve barter deals or funds deposited in non-Western banks to circumvent sanctions.
Iran was never barred from selling steel under sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over its disputed nuclear program. But financial restrictions banning banks from processing dollar payments for Iran deals have made trade difficult.
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