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Iran carpet business no longer a main export earner, annual sales drop to $72mln

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)
Traders blame exchange regulations and US bans for a major drop in exports of hand-woven carpets.

Iran has lost hundreds of millions in annual revenues from exports of hand-woven carpets as a major businessman blame the huge loss on current exchange regulations and US sanctions.

The ILNA news agency said in a Monday report that carpet exports from Iran in the calendar year to late March had topped to $72.4 million, accounting for 0.17% of the country’s total non-oil exports over the period.

That comes as hand-woven carpet shipments used to be a main export earner for Iran besides crude and oil products in the not too distant past.

Government data shows that annual carpet exports had reached a record of nearly $700 million in 1997. That amounted to about a fifth of the total non-oil exports from the country over that year.

“A main reason for the freefall in carpet exports is the fact that experienced exporters have withdrawn from the market,” said Seyyed Razi Miri, a major carpet trader, who insisted that current rules on exports have deterred many traders from export activity.

Iran imposed tight controls on currency liquidity in 2018 after the country’s foreign exchange resources came under strain because of US sanctions.

Those controls require exporters to return their hard currency proceeds to the country within a short period of time.

Miri said the requirement is totally untenable for carpet traders as they need time to sell their products in foreign countries where demand for hand-woven carpet has declined in recent years.

“Rules and regulations imposed on exports can somehow be viewed as a domestic form of sanction or at least they can have impacts similar to the sanction,” he said.

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