EghtesadOnline: A total of $580 million worth of handicrafts were exported from Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2018-19).
According to Ali Asghar Mounesan, caretaker of the newly-formed Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, exports through official customs terminals stood at $281 million while foreign tourists bought $300 million worth of Iranian handicrafts and exported them in the form of suitcase trade, ISNA reported.
According to Farzad Ojani, the deputy head of former Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran for export affairs, Germany, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan were the main export destinations for Iranian handicrafts.
The exported handicrafts included traditional jewelry, rugs and other fabric floorings, khatam (a kind of marquetry), enamelwork, glasswork and wood carvings, Financial Tribune reported.
Handicraft exports in the fiscal 2017-18, according to Ojani, stood at $280 million.
ICHHTO Converted Into Ministry
President Hassan Rouhani appointed Ali Asghar Mounesan as caretaker of the newly-formed Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts on Wednesday.
Earlier, Asadollah Abbasi, spokesperson of Majlis Presiding Board, told reporters that as per Article 123 of the Iranian Constitution and parliamentarians’ single-urgency motion, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani notified the ratified bill to the president on Aug. 17, President.ir reported.
The Iranian Parliament approved the conversion of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization into a ministry on Aug. 1, 2018. From a total of 199 lawmakers present, 137 MPs voted in favor and 41 voted against, while one abstained from voting.
Under the conversion plan, ICHHTO will turn into a ministry with all its current duties and authorities without any expansion of its administrative structure and workforce. Any possible costs arising from the change will be covered by savings in government expenses.
The legislation requires all the property and human resources of the organization to be handed over to the new ministry. The law bans any increase in the workforce, facilities and expenses of the ministry while the Sixth Development Plan (2017-22) is in effect.
From Tehran Province alone, a total of $84.12 million worth of handicrafts were exported during the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019).
According to Mohammad Enshaei, the deputy head of Tehran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Directorate, the figure shows a 36% growth compared with the year before, when some $62 million worth of handicrafts were exported from the Iranian capital, Mehr News Agency reported.
Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Russia, Armenia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar were the main export destinations.
The exports mainly included traditional glassware, hand-woven products, mosaic and wood carving.
Iran produced 1.79 trillion rials ($15.43 million) worth of handicrafts during the first four months of the current Iranian year (March 21-July 21), registering an increase of 40.94% compared with last year’s corresponding period, says Farhad Fallah, director general of the newly-formed ministry for handicraft production affairs.
As reported by the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, Iran is the world’s third biggest handicraft producer.
Tehran Hosts Nat’l Handicrafts Exhibition
The 32nd National Exhibition of Handicrafts is scheduled to open at Tehran International Fairground on Aug. 25.
“The exhibition will host active handicraft artists and companies from all over the country,” Abdolhossein Kafiri, an official with Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization, told IRNA.
He expects the number of visitors to witness a 15-20% increase this year compared to the previous edition of the event held late last year (March 2018-19).
In his words, the expo is aimed at boosting marketing and sales, identifying consumers’ tastes, promoting transfer of know-how among craftsmen and introducing the capacities of Iranian handicraft producers to government officials and organizations.
The seven-day event concludes on August 31. Those interested can visit the expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.
Concurrent with the event, the 28th edition of Iran Handmade Carpet Exhibition will also be held at the Tehran fairground.
Iran National Carpet Center, as the sponsor and organizer of the event, will provide special facilities and options for foreign businessmen active in the handmade carpet sector.
A number of foreign business and trade delegations are also expected to visit the exhibition and hold trade talks with Iranian producers and exporters of hand-woven carpets.
The event attracts as many as 4,000 visitors each year. The previous edition of the exhibition hosted over 670 producers, export companies and manufacturing units across the country.
80% of Hand-Woven Carpets Exported
Persian handmade carpet, besides its excellent status in art and culture, is considered a luxurious commodity with a high value and adorns many palaces, museums and private houses across the world.
Latest data show Iran exported more than $176 million worth of hand-woven carpets during the first seven months of last Iranian year (March 21-Oct. 22, 2018). The figure showed a 20% decline compared with the similar period of the year before.
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 about 80 countries.
In the fiscal 2017-18, handmade carpet exports hit $428 million. However, with the sanctions kicking in, exports declined but the center is pursuing ways of bypassing sanctions and maintaining a foothold in global markets.
Fereshteh Dastpak, the head of Iran National Carpet Center, recently said plans are underway to establish a barter system to trade Persian hand-woven carpets for other commodities.
She noted that major buyers of Persian handmade carpets in China have expressed readiness to use 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.
"More than 95% of raw materials to produce hand-woven carpets in Iran are produced domestically," she said.
According to the official, one of the key problems facing exporters is the limitation imposed on them by the government for currency repatriation.
As per a 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 current harsh economic conditions. But it has understandably received negative feedback from private sector players.
Dastpak noted that 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 of the country's economy. Handmade carpets are deemed Iran’s second flag and a symbol of Iranian identity and culture,” she said.