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Iran to implement blockade on US goods

A woman uses an iMac computer in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran on Jan. 18, 2011. ©Reuters

Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade says it will block imports of American goods in line with an order by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to develop an “economy of resistance”.   

“We will implement the blockade on imports of American goods in a directive,” Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said on Saturday.

The plan is in line with Ayatollah Khamenei's recent letter to President Hassan Rouhani, setting out the government's obligations on empowering national production, developing an “economy of resistance” and checking imports of US-made goods, he added.

The Leader wrote the letter more than a week ago to outline his conditional approval of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- Iran’s nuclear accord reached in July with the US, Europe, Russia and China.

The letter demanded that the government take seriously the "economy of resistance", focusing on self-reliance instead of basing Iran's economy on external sources.

The Leader also instructed the government to guard against "unbridled imports" and check the entry of all goods from the United States when sanctions are lifted.

President Rouhani wrote back to Ayatollah Khamenei, assuring that his government would observe the Leader's guidance and considerations.

Iranians try out iPhones in an electronics shop selling Apple products in Tehran. ©AP  

American products often find their way into the Iranian marketplace through back channels. There are other routes such as licensing workarounds and direct trade for goods not covered by US sanctions which result in American products ending up in the Iranian market. 

US food and beverages such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi have local bottlers and distributors in Iran, but they say they have nothing to do with the American brands.

Earlier this month, US media reports said Washington had approved exports of soft drinks to Iran, putting an end to a ban which had been in place since 1990s. 

US brands also make up the bulk of contraband cigarettes in Iran. Up to 6-7 billion Marlboro cigarettes, made by Philip Morris USA, are annually smoked in Iran which translates into imports of three truckloads per week, the ISNA news agency said in May. 

A senior official said recently that Iran had launched a serious campaign to stem the flow of bootleg cigarettes.

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