As of 2012, Iran had the 17th largest economy in the world by purchasing power and the 25th largest economy in the world by gross domestic product. The economy of Iran is currently what is known as a mixed economy, meaning that it is around 50% a free market economy, and around 50% centrally planned, meaning that this part of the economy is controlled by government planners. Although it was initially able to avoid the global recession because of its partial isolation from the free global market, recent economic sanctions against Iran by certain countries have affected the country’s economy.
The majority of the country’s exports are made up of gas and oil, which are purchased by other countries in the Middle East who do not have their own gas and oil reserves, as well as by countries which are furtherafield. The gas and oil export industry is worth about $100 billion dollars per year to Iran.Authentic Iranian rugs are also a huge export industry for Iran. The rug trade is one which dates back thousands and thousands of years, and one which began to grow and develop with the expansion of the silk routes across Central Asia. The authentic Iranian rug and textile industry employs around 12 % of the workforce whose primary occupation is in manufacturing. These authentic Iranian Rugs (otherwise known as Persian rugs) are popular worldwide, and have become collector’s items and historical pieces. The number of rugs which can legally be produced in Iran has been capped in order to try to drive up the prices of authentic pieces for producers, because these rugs are in such high demand. Although the major production industries are centered around Tehran and the Caspian Sea, there are small scale and individual producers across the country who produce unique and different pieces. caspianmonarque.com
The food export industry is also very important to Iran, and brings the country over $700 million per year in export revenue. The agricultural food security level of the country stands at around 96%, meaning that Iran is comfortably able to export their excess food stuffs without impacting on the well being of its citizens. Iran is the largest producer in the world of pistachios, saffron and barberries, as well as being the second largest producer of dates. The other main foodstuffs which are exported by Iran include flavoured oils, fruit juices, jams and yeast for bread production. Due to its location on the coast of the Caspian Sea, Iranian fishermen are able to harvest the eggs of the Beluga sturgeon, which are considered to be the world’s most expensive caviar. This caviar can sell for over $300 for 1 ounce. Iran is the only country in the world which is legally allowed to harvest and sell this type of caviar, because of their sustainable fishing policies; other Caspian Sea countries are banned from harvesting this caviar. The main countries which import foodstuffs from Iran are in the Middle East and Central Asia, but also include Germany, Spain, France and Canada.