Non-oil exports rose 24 percent in the 10 months up to January compared with the same period a year before, the minister said on Thursday.
Petrochemical products account for much of Iran’s non-oil exports. Nematzadeh says the country is planning to expand its exports of base metals, cars, food and industrial products such as building materials.
“Iran’s focus for now is its neighbors for supply of goods in high demand with competitive capacities,” he said.
The country is trying to balance out a lingering trade deficit which is eating into proceeds from sale of oil and petrochemicals.
Imports ballooned to several hundred billion dollars in the former government as it presided over an influx of petrodollars due to high oil prices.
The period saw a flood of luxury goods and cosmetics into the country. According to official figures, Iran’s imports in the 11 months to February in 2014 totaled $36.6 billion, a decline of about 12 percent compared with the same period a year before.
China is the biggest importer of Iranian goods. Other major importers are UAE, Afghanistan and Iraq.
US-led sanctions have depleted Iran’s hard currency reserves, forcing the country to use its revenues with greater calculation.
Nematzadeh says the country further plans to cut its exports of unprocessed goods. “The government’s aim is to slash exports of unprocessed minerals."
In its steel industry, for example, Iran currently exports some of iron ore due to shortages in its smelting capacity, the minister said.