EghtesadOnline: The Iranian Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade has removed 47 commodities from the list of banned imports.
Commodities allowed for import under the new directive fall under the wide-ranging categories of “auto and locomotive force”, “mining affairs and mineral industries”, “power and electricity”, “textile and clothing”, “metal and home appliances” and “agriculture”.
These include apparel and footwear, automobiles, copper, lead and tin ore and concentrate, leather, ventilation fans and systems, fluorescent lighting, batteries, gas meters and industrial milk powder.
In June, imports of 1,339 commodities categorized as “non-essential goods with domestic counterparts” were banned by the government to save foreign currency and support domestically-made products, Financial Tribune reported.
“Imports of some goods will be restricted by increasing customs duties while some other goods will be altogether banned from imports,” former deputy industries minister, Mojtaba Khosrotaj, said then.
The list banned the import of cars, refrigerators and freezers, automatic folding cabin doors of elevators, farm tractors, milk powder, ambulances, range hoods, stoves, ovens, tea- and coffee-makers, cameras, musical instruments and some auto parts, among others.
Unusual items, including full lace hair wigs, wimples, thermoses, colored pencils, soap, candles, tomato ketchup, shovel and spades, teabags, whey cheese, cow leather and postcards, are also among the list of banned imports.
This import-restrictive measure also gave rise to a large volume of unclaimed imported consignments left at major Iranian ports as well as strong criticisms leveled at the government by the parliament and private sector operators.
More than six months into the ban, the government is now unveiling new measures to allow the entry of banned commodities into the country.
Last week, it was announced that banned imports, which had secured order registration permits before the directive took effect, can be transferred to and cleared from free trade zones and special economic zones.
Order registration refers to the process of listing import items with the customs authorities. It is the first step for importing any type of commodity.
In another development, the validity period of orders registered for imports with the Trade Promotion Organization has been extended from three months to six months to lower the odds of their revocation due to the difficulties arising from a prolonged customs clearance process.
According to a report by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, lengthy order registration procedures, missed deadlines and the requisite needed for re-obtaining permit from the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade and many other organizations, as well as problems related to the allocation and transfer of foreign currency are challenges presently facing importers.
One such problem pertains to the expiration of commercial ID cards (certificates issued by the Industries Ministry, which identifies the applicants through Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture and permits individuals and entities to trade under certain conditions).
Emergency Plan for Clearance
Under orders from its newly-appointed chief, Mehdi Mirashrafi, IRICA has recently introduced an emergency plan to speed up the clearance of imports and reduce the pileup of goods at ports, particularly containers accumulated at the southern port of Shahid Rajaee.
Located 23 kilometers west of the port city of Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormozgan Province, Shahid Rajaee Port is Iran’s biggest container port at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz.
"About 50,000 containers are currently piled up at Shahid Rajaee Port, of which 12,000 are declared abandoned," Touraj Amiri, the deputy head of the port, recently told the news service of the Roads and Urban Development Ministry.
"To conclude their customs clearance process, importers of essential goods are exempt from extending their order registration permits," he added.