EghtesadOnline: Despite US sanctions and the outbreak of coronavirus, carpet exports have increased by 14% in the current fiscal year (March 2020-21), Farahnaz Rafe’, the chairwoman of Iran National Carpet Center, said on Wednesday.
Noting that carpet production has registered a 114% growth this year, the official said offering concessional loans with a lending rate of 12% to carpet weavers is a priority.
“In collaboration with Qarz Al-Hasaneh Mehr Iran Bank, loans worth up to 300 million rials [$1,153] with an interest rate of 4% will be paid for the Complementary Health Insurance of carpet weavers. At present, a total of 261,000 carpet weavers are under the coverage of the Social Security Insurance Organization,” she was quoted as saying by IRNA.
A total of $50 million worth of hand-woven carpet were exported from Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20), registering a 90% decline compared with the previous year.
In fact, last year was the worst in decades for Iranian carpet industry, according to the CEO of National Association for Handmade Carpet Producers Cooperatives.
“This decline in exports has many reasons, the main ones being US sanctions as well as the Central Bank of Iran’s requisite for traders to repatriate the foreign currency gained from exports, which significantly increases trade risk and discourages exporters,” Abdollah Bahrami was also quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
Bahrami noted that CBI has imposed this regulation on hand-woven carpets, Iran’s strategic non-oil export, and the officials responsible for making this decision must now be held accountable for all the losses suffered by the industry.
As per the 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 strained currency reserves in the short run, under increasingly harsh conditions. But it has understandably received negative feedback from private sector players.
“Up until two decades ago, the country used to earn more than $1.5 billion from handmade carpet exports, but today we have lost our position as the world’s biggest carpet exporter. It is well known nowadays that when you lose an export market, you can’t easily take it back,” he said.
According to Bahrami, the UAE, China, Germany and South American nations were the main customers of Iranian hand-woven carpets last year.
Iran is looking to finalize a plan based on which identification documents will be issued for hand-woven Persian carpets by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2021), the head of Iran National Carper Center said.
“The IDs will not only contain information on the physical features of rugs, but also their weaver[s] and patterns,” Rafe’ was quoted as saying by Mizan Online in May.
The patterns woven on most Iranian rugs usually narrate a folkloric tale, a historic event or illustrate poems by well-known Persian poets.
Rafe’ noted that the project will begin with the most exquisite and luxurious woven carpets.
“Iran exported hand-woven carpets worth $47.91 million during the eight months to Nov. 20,” Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“Carpet exports show a $755,000 decrease compared with the similar period of last year, which appear reasonable given the outbreak of coronavirus and closure of borders.”
As per the budget bill for the next year (March 2021-22), the government will allocate 155.5 billion rials ($600,000) to improve the country’s share from the export of hand-woven carpets through local and international marketing. It has also projected a 50-billion-rial ($190,000) financial support for Iran’s Hand-Woven Rural Central Union.