September 29th 2010 saw the introduction of a ban on “carpets, rugs and other textile floor coverings and carpets used as wall hangings” that are of Iranian origin. The ban is a part of a group of sanctions on Iranian goods imposed by the U.S. government against Iran and its nuclear programme. President Obama signed the legislation on the 1st July 2010 reversing a move made in the late Clinton administration which seen the easing of restrictions on Iranian goods. Prior to this Americans had gone without genuine Persian rugs and other Iranian goods such as Pistachios and caviar.
While this ban will irritate the many Americans who love their Persian traditional rugs it will also have a serious impact on the rug and carpet industry in Iran where rug exports generate an approximate €500 million for the economy. Bloomberg recently stated that 20% of that €500m is obtained through the U.S. market. According to Ali-Reza Ghaderi the founder of the Persian Carpet Think Tank the ban is a “clear mistake” as “The carpet industry is in the hands of the private sector from scratch to end product and is not backed by the Iranian government. Instead of hurting the regime this will harm Iranian families involved in the business.” The United Nations and the U.S. have imposed further sanctions on Iran as a result of the country’s further pursuance of Uranium as part of its nuclear activities.
Robert Powell who is an economist in New York believes “the U.S. decision to ban sales of carpets should not be viewedcuriosity,” as the carpet weaving industry is big business and is one of Iran’s biggest employers. Despite the fact that sales of Iranian Persian traditional rugs rugs have increased in several locations around the world including Asia and the UK – the U.S. embargo will have a serious impact on this localised industry largely due to the significant increase in the sale of Persian rugs to the U.S. since 1979.
Ghaderi expressed concern that the ban will open the gates to allow other countries to duplicate Persian rugs and carpets motifs at lesser qualities and so cheaper prices. “When the supply source is shut it leads to a wave of demandChina, Nepal, India and Pakistan were named as countries where there are companies that copy Persian carpets as a business.
Iran began exporting Persian rugs 100 years ago and today they produce around 5 million square metres (53 million square feet) of carpets and rugs a year, of which 4 million is exported. The motifs used in Persian rugs have roots in the Iranian culture as they are inspired by national, traditional and religious beliefs and according to Ghaderi Persian rugs are an expression of Iran’s culture. as merely a and this will be shifted towards pieces of lesser quality,” Ghaderi said.
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