EghtesadOnline: The Third International Exhibition of Paper, Cardboard, Cellulose Products and Related Machinery, also known as PCCM 2020, opens in Tehran today.
It is being held at Tehran International Fairground from July 14-17, 2020.
According to Managing Director of Iran International Exhibitions Company Bahman Hosseinzadeh, over 60 domestic companies are to showcase their products in this exhibition, which only hosts experts of the field given the unprecedented situation created by the outbreak of coronavirus.
The public may not visit the event in person and those who visit are required to follow health protocols.
Demand, Supply for Different Types of Paper
Iran needs a total of 350,000 tons of publication paper and 65,000 tons of newsprint annually, most of which is met through imports, Fars News Agency quoted Hosseinzadeh as saying.
Demand for packaging paper is close to 1 million tons annually, whereas 80 operational local factories have the capacity to produce 3 million tons of this type of paper, he added.
“In addition, domestic factories have the capacity to produce 300,000 tons of tissue paper while total demand for this product stands at 160,000 tons per annum. The cardboard-making machines installed at 170 factories can produce 3 million tons of cardboard while local demand stands at 1 million tons,” he said.
Latest data show a total of 135,000 tons of different types of paper worth over $162 million were imported into Iran during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (March 20-June 20).
“Newsprint [a low-cost, non-archival paper consisting mainly of wood pulp and most commonly used to print newspapers] accounted for 1,789 tons worth $1.34 million of total paper imports in Q1,” Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rohollah Latifi has been quoted as saying by ISNA.
A total of 58,625 tons of publication paper worth $57.58 million were imported during the period compared with 61,640 tons worth $63.52 million in last year’s same period, he added.
Agreement to Establish 240,000-Ton Paper Mill
A partnership agreement for setting up Khuzestan Green Paper Mill was signed between Setad, a special office for executing the decrees of Imam Khomeini in helping the underprivileged, and a consortium bank, including Parsian Bank, Bank Sepah, Bank Melli Iran and the Bank of Industry and Mine, in Tehran in December.
“The factory, scheduled to be completed in three years in Shadegan, Khuzestan Province, will have the capacity to produce 240,000 tons of paper per year, which is enough to supply 38% of the country’s demand for paper,” Mohammad Mokhber, the president of Setad, told IRIB News.
“With an investment of $467 million, a total of $285 million of the country’s foreign currency reserves will be saved once the factory is fully operational. About 1,700 jobs will be created for locals of the deprived city of Shadegan,” he added.
The government allocates subsidized currency to import paper at a rate of 4,200 rials per dollar as it considers paper among "essential and strategic goods", according to Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi.
Exorbitant Price Rises, Ground for Corruption
Publishers have witnessed an astonishing increase in prices of coated paper used in printing and packaging industry lately.
Many publishers and print media companies have been pushed out of the market ever since the recurrent episodes of paper price surges have begun.
The meaningful difference between the two rates of subsidized currencies and market rates has resulted in widespread corruption in paper market, just like other markets whose preferred but not incorruptible players have received subsidized dollars.
According to Mohammad Reza Modoudi, former caretaker of Trade Promotion Organization, there is no telling whether subsidized foreign currencies granted to a given importer is spent on essential goods.
"Pricing goods, a hallmark of command economy, is known to beget corruption and rent-seeking behavior," he told the Persian daily Iran.
Investigative reporting by local journalists, including those of Shargh daily, has revealed that if only €22 million in subsidized currency two front companies received to import paper had been rightfully spent on importing newsprint, the ongoing paper crisis facing newspaper and magazine owners would have been resolved by now.
2nd Exhibition Following Coronavirus Outbreak
PCCM 2020 is the second exhibition held in the capital city following the outbreak of coronavirus.
The 12th edition of Doors and Windows Technology International Exhibition, also known as "Do-WinTech", was held at Tehran’s International Permanent Fairground earlier this month. That exhibition was also not open to the public and only industry insiders, experts and professionals were allowed in order to prevent the spread of the infectious Covid-19.
According to Hosseinzadeh, Iran’s exhibition industry sustained losses to the tune of 3.1 trillion rials ($13.67 million) due to the outbreak of coronavirus and cancellation or postponement of trade shows.
The pandemic hurt 3,300 people engaged in conducting trade fairs plus 450 organizer companies. Job creation declined by one person per 4.5-5 square meters of exhibition space, he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“We have equipped the Tehran International Exhibition Fairground with disinfecting devices as well as equipment required to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus,” he said.