October 28, 2019 / 5:27 AM / 22 days ago

Iran would need oil at $195 a barrel next year to balance budget: IMF

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran would need oil priced at $194.6 a barrel to balance its budget next year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.

FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S.,September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Hurt by tighter U.S. sanctions, Iran - a key member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - is expected to have a fiscal deficit of 4.5% this year and 5.1% next year, the fund said in a report on Monday.

On Friday, international benchmark Brent crude closed trading at just above $62 a barrel.

Iran saw its oil revenues surge after a 2015 nuclear pact agreed with six major powers ended a sanctions regime imposed three years earlier over its disputed nuclear program.

But new sanctions brought in after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from that deal in 2018 are the most painful imposed by Washington.

Iran’s economy is expected to shrink by 9.5% this year, compared to a prior estimate of a 6% contraction, the IMF has said, but real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to be flat next year.

“The estimate is that ... sanctions that were reintroduced last year and tightened this year, next year will not have an additional impact,” Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, told Reuters.

A drop in the Iranian currency following the reimposition of sanctions has disrupted Iran’s foreign trade and boosted annual inflation, which the IMF forecasts at 35.7% this year and 31% next year.

Azour said the Iranian authorities should align the official exchange rate with the market rate to control inflation.

The IMF forecast Iran’s exports of goods and services to drop to $60.3 billion this year from $103.2 billion last year, and to fall further to $55.5 billion in 2020.

Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Dale Hudson

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