EghtesadOnline: Plans are underway to establish a barter system to trade Persian hand-woven carpets for other commodities, says Fereshteh Dastpak, the head of Iran National Carpet Center.
She noted that major buyers of Persian handmade carpets in China have expressed readiness to apply such a system to import Iranian carpets in exchange for subway wagons.
Sweden and Russia have also offered do trade Iranian carpets for a range of other commodities, Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture's news portal reported.
According to the official, Iran exported $428 million worth of hand-woven carpets during the last fiscal year (March 2017-18). However, with the sanctions kicking in, exports have declined but the center is pursuing ways to bypass sanctions and maintain a foothold in global markets, Financial Tribune reported.
"More than 95% of raw materials to produce hand-woven carpets in Iran are produced domestically," she said.
Dastpak noted that one of the most important problems facing exporters these days is the limitations imposed by the government for currency repatriation.
As per a recent directive devised in the wake of a currency crisis in Iran, the government has obliged all exporters to repatriate their foreign currency yields into the economic cycle of the country.
The move is aimed at boosting the strained currency reserves, at least in the short term, under the increasingly harsh conditions. But it has understandably received negative feedback from private sector players.
Latest statistics show Iran exported more than $176 million worth of hand-woven carpets during the first seven months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Oct. 22). The figure shows a 20% decline compared with the similar period of last year.
Germany, Lebanon, the UK and China 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 some 80 countries.
“About 32% of our handmade carpets used to go to the US. We have now lost that market due to the reimposition of sanctions against our country,” Dastpak was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency earlier this month.
She added that new markets need to be replaced with the US to compensate for the decline in exports.
According to the official, about 80% of hand-woven carpets produced in Iran are exported.
“The product has always been among the top three non-oil exports of Iran 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.
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.
After the 2016 removal of sanctions, 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.