We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Iran: Balance of Payments and Debt
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > International Trade and the Balance of Payments > Balance of Payments and Debt


Although Iran’s foreign-exchange balance has fluctuated primarily in response to oil revenues, the demand for foreign exchange (for imports and services) typically has exceeded the funds available. Beginning in 1990, foreign-exchange payment statistics showed continuous increases with relatively few fluctuations in payments; foreign-exchange receipts varied primarily in relation to export volume and the prices of crude oil. For example, in 1998, following a reduction in the global demand for crude oil, Iranian oil revenue declined by 36 percent while imports increased slightly, resulting in a current account deficit of US$2.1 billion. In the other years between 1995 and 2004, increased oil revenue yielded a trade surplus, and both foreign-exchange receipts and foreign reserves increased continuously. The current account also was affected by nonoil exports and services, although to a lesser degree. In 2006 the current account surplus was US$13.3 billion. Between 1991 and 2004, the value of nonoil exports increased from US$1 billion to US$7 billion, 2.9 times faster than the value of oil exports during that period. Within the services account, travel receipts increased from US$61 million to US$1.4 billion, and travel payments from US$340 million to US$2.6 billion. Payments on investment income increased from US$157 million to US$1.2 billion.

Iran’s capital account has shown more fluctuations than the current account balance because of short-term and long-term foreign borrowing, debt service payments (principal and interest) on international loans, and the current account status. After continuous growth during the previous five years, in mid2006 the total amount of foreign debt was about US$18.6 billion. Of that amount, US$8.2 billion was short-term debt. Because financial market transactions are limited in Iran, liabilities are limited, and data on private-sector investment in foreign securities are also not available. In 2006 high oil prices raised Iran’s foreign currency holdings to US$58.5 billion.

Data as of 2008

Last Updated: January 2008

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Iran Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 148 of 246


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(﷼) Iran Rial (IRR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map