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Iran’s shoe industry thriving, manufacturers eye jump in exports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian shoe manufacturers have grown in size since 2018 when government banned imports.

Iran’s shoe industry has grown rapidly in the past three years as manufacturers eye to capture a major share of the export markets in neighboring countries.

Ali Ajdarkosh, who chairs the Iranian Guild Association of Shoe Manufacturers, said on Tuesday that the sector is well capable of reaching an annual output target of 1 billion pairs of shoes in few years’ time.

Speaking to reporters in a briefing in Tehran, Ajdarkosh said that the target would mean that Iran can earn around $6 billion in shoe exports revenues per year mainly from shipments to neighboring and Central Asian countries.

He said current output capacity in the Iranian shoe manufacturing sector is around 450 million pairs per year of which nearly 250 million pairs are actually sold to the final customers.  

Experts say an outright ban on imports of shoes into Iran that was enacted in 2018 has caused a rapid growth in the sector in recent years.

“The ban on imports led to a significant growth in the shoe industry so that Iranian manufacturers reached a growth level in three years that could have normally been attained within 20 years,” said Alireza Jabbarian, a businessman representing shoemakers of Tabriz, a city in northwestern Iran which is well-known for its fine hand-made shoes.

Iranian shoe manufacturers also owe their major success to a surge in price of hard currency in recent years that has been caused by US sanctions on Iran.

Industry sources say that smuggling of foreign-made shoes into Iran have almost stopped because of rising exchange prices while consumers have also developed a preference for brand new Iranian shoes that are more affordable.

Afsaneh Mehrabi, who leads the garments and textile department at the Iranian industries ministry (MIMT), said recently that domestic shoe and apparel brands had captured a large share of the market in Iran since the government imposed its ban on imports three years ago.

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