(Persia Digest) - Iran's economy has had a turbulent decade.
In 2016, Iran was on the rise economically, but since 2018, United States sanctions have sent the Middle Eastern nation in a downward spiral. The sanctions had previously been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal between the two countries.
Now, experts predict that Iran will face a shrinking economy, ballooning inflation, and a significant budget deficit.
As Iran looks to the future, it's relying on trade partners other than the US in hopes to get its economy back on track.
Here are eight surprising facts about Iran's economy.
Iran's economy is roughly the size of Maryland's
Iran's gross domestic product was $454 billion in 2017, a shade more than Maryland's $418 billion, according to the World Bank.
The countries nearest to Iran in GDP are Thailand, Venezuela, and Austria.
Iran's economy shrank 3.9% last year, and it's expected to shrink another 6% this year
According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran's economy is expected to shrink 6% in 2019, the result of recent sanctions imposed by the United States.
The expected decline follows a decrease of 3.9% in 2018.
A senior official from the IMF warned that inflation in Iran could reach as high as 40% this year.
Iran's annual inflation rate could hit 50%, bringing it into the realm of hyperinflation
An annual inflation rate of 50% would be the nation's highest rate since 1980, Bloomberg says.
According to the Iranian Statistical Center, the monthly inflation rate rose to 51.4% as the 12-month rate increased to 30.6%.
With a monthly inflation rate of 50%, a $1 product on January 1 would be cost $130 the next January 1.
Iran isn't alone in its struggles with inflation. According to Trading Economics, five other nations currently have higher inflation rates: North Korea, Argentina, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela, who has the highest in the world at 130,060%.
Unemployment could top 16%
Unemployment in Iran is expected to hit 15.4% in 2019 and rise above 16% next year, according to CNN. That would more than four times the current US unemployment rate of less than 4%.
Things aren't faring much better in Iran's capital Tehran, where the unemployment rate is 12.2%.
Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate is even worse, with 28% of the labor force between ages 15 and 24 out of a job in 2018.
Iran would need current oil prices to more than double in order to balance its budget
Iran reported a $10 billion deficit in the first nine months of its fiscal year, according to VOA News.
To cover the deficit, Bloomberg reported the nation would need oil prices to hit $125 a barrel. Current Brent crude oil prices are just over $60.
An estimated 22 million liters of gas are smuggled out of Iran daily
As sanctions continue to cripple Iran's economy, the country has resorted to other measures for trading.
According to Bloomberg, some experts estimate that 22 million liters of gas are smuggled out of Iran on motorbikes every day to more lucrative markets.
Additionally, reports suggest that between $2 million and $3 million in cash are being transported from Afghanistan to Iran to help sustain the nation, Bloomberg reported.
China accounts for more of Iran's economy than all of Europe combined
China makes up a significant portion of Iran's economic activity, being responsible for 25.6% of Iran's imports and 19.7% of its exports, according to BusinessDay.
In spite of US sanctions on Iran, China has announced it wouldn't significantly decrease its oil purchases with China, BusinessDay reported. India and Turkey made similar announcements.
The cost of poultry and red meat in Iran has jumped 57% since last year.
According to ABC, the prices of food in Iran are rising quickly because of climbing inflation rates.
Red meat and poultry prices jumped 57% since 2018, while vegetable prices rose 47%, ABC reported. Milk, cheese, and egg prices increased 37%.
Source: Business Insider
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