EghtesadOnline: About 80% of hand-woven carpets produced in Iran are exported annually. Iranian carpets have many clients across the world and no individual or country can expel them from the international markets, the chairwoman of Iran National Carpet Center said.
“The US has included Persian carpets in the list of sanctions it has recently reimposed on the country, but this cannot disrupt our trade in the field. The capacities we have in the markets of Europe and China as well as in other countries can nullify the effects of US sanctions,” Fereshteh Dastpak was also quoted as saying by Mizan Online.
A total of $176 million worth of Persian rugs were exported from Iran during the seven months to Oct. 22
The official added that the history of Iranian handmade carpets dates back to thousands of years and throughout these years it has managed to maintain its status despite political and economic hardships, Financial Tribune reported.
“The product has always been among the top three non-oil export products even through the worst years experienced by the country's economy. Handmade carpets are deemed Iran’s second flag and a symbol of Iranian identity and culture,” she said.
Dastpak added that with enough tact, producers and exporters can preserve and further expand their foothold in the global markets.
"Some 2.5 million people in Iran are one way or another engaged in the carpet industry," she said.
Based on the latest figures released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, $176 million worth of Persian rugs were exported from Iran during the seven months to Oct. 22.
In the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2018), according to IRICA, exports stood at 5,400 tons worth $424 million to register an increase of 18.11% in value compared to the year before.
The US, Germany, Lebanon, the UK and China with a respective 30%, 13.6%, 7.1%, 5.5% and 5.4% share, were the biggest customers of Iran. Italy, Switzerland, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar are other traditional buyers of Iranian carpets.
Persian hand-woven carpets are exported to about 80 countries.
Iran is the biggest producer of handmade carpets.
Hamid Kargar, former chairman of Iran's National Carpet Center, said back in April that new customers have emerged in recent years, namely China, Russia, South Africa and some Latin American countries, IRNA reported.
The United States, prior to sanctions, was the biggest importer of Persian carpets.
International economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear energy program dealt a heavy blow to Iran's carpet industry.
However, with the removal of sanctions as of early 2016 as part of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers a year earlier, trade began to normalize.
Exports to the US, which used to import $80 million worth of Iranian rugs annually, resumed after five to six years of “zero” shipments to the country.
Iran exported over $97 million worth of handmade carpets to the US alone in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Sanctions also hit Iranian carpets by increasing costs of production, raising export risks and complicating the process of transactions.
The economic recession in some of Iran’s target markets in Europe also affected carpet exports such that these countries stopped buying, as hand-woven carpets are considered luxury products.
Change in lifestyle and taste, emergence of new types of floorings, domestic inflation and high costs of raw materials are also among challenges facing the Iranian hand-woven carpet industry.
"Iranian hand-woven carpets have a 30% share in global markets," Kargar told Financial Tribune last year.
According to the official, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Nepal and Afghanistan are the main rivals of Iranian carpet exporters in international markets.
More than 3 million square meters of handmade carpets, he said, are annually woven in Iran.