By Vahid Jafarian, Editorial Board Member
Iran says its exports of hand-woven carpets to the United States have reached around $50 million since the lifting of sanctions in January this year.
“Carpet exports to the US in the eight months of the current Iranian year was set on $50 million compared to zero in the previous year,” The head of the Iranian National Carpet Center Hamid Karegar said in a meeting with Qazvin Governor General Fereidoun Hemmati.
According to Kargar, Iran resumed carpet exports to the US as a result of the implementation of nuclear deal known as JCPOA.
“Iran used to export as much as $80 million of Persian carpets – globally known as one of the oldest and most valuable oriental handicrafts – to the US. The sanctions, however, brought the exports to the world’s largest buyer to zero in 2010,” Karegar added.
He further asserted that over the past few years, our competitors have taken the lead managing to gain a good share of US carpet market; “according to the US customs statistics, India has become number one exporter of carpet to the Unites States,” he noted.
In January, Iran shipped its first cargo of hand-woven carpets to Los Angeles, United States through the port of Hamburg.
Noting that carpet exports to China have also increased in recent years, Karegar said that over the past five years, carpet exports to China has raised to eight million dollars from previous 8000 dollars.
Sanctions on the country’s carpet industry imposed negative impacts on its exports, Kargar said, adding after JCPOA we have seen openings in sales of Iranian goods to the customers in foreign countries.
Iran’s carpet industry dates back to 3,000 years ago and currently, one million artists are engaged in the industry, Karegar noted.
Earlier in November, Karegar had said that the country will begin ‘direct’ exports of its traditional hand-woven carpets to the United States in early 2017.
Iranian caviar, pistachios, saffron and carpets and US commercial aircraft and their parts are among the items allowed for limited business with the US.
Carpets are a major source of revenue for Iran’s $400 billion economy behind oil and gas and their derivatives, and pistachio nuts.
In 2011, the country exported carpets worth more than $600 million and sought to raise it to $1 billion in the next year but intensified sanctions suspended the plan.
In the United States, Persian carpets are offered from $200,000 to $5,000 a piece depending on the type of the fabric, design and intricacy employed in their making.
Those produced in India, Pakistan and China sell for about half the price of Persian carpets due to their lower quality, according to dealers.
In recent years, Iranian rug dealers have switched to the Asian market, catering especially to the growing crave in China and the UAE where many affluent families see exotic Persian carpets as an investment.