Iran says the channel to export its traditional hand-woven carpets to the United States is still open amid recent concerns in Tehran that Washington under a new leadership had already banned imports and re-exports of the precious Persian handicraft.
Iran’s IRNA news agency in a report quoted an unnamed official at the country’s Foreign Ministry as saying that Iranian merchants were still allowed to export their carpets to the US.
The official added that the US Treasury Department had not yet reversed an authorization to import Persian carpets that came into effect after the removal of sanctions against Iran in January 2016.
Earlier, Iran’s media quoted Razi Miri, the deputy head of the Iranian Carpet Exporters' Association, as saying that the US had banned imports of Persian carpets as well as their re-exports to a third country.
In October 2016, Hamid Kargar, head of the Iran National Carpet Center, said that the exports of hand-woven carpets to the US had reached around $50 million since the removal of sanctions in January.
This followed earlier reports that the exports of the prized Persian carpets to the world’s largest consumer market were getting a boost from the lifting of the sanctions.
Iran shipped its first cargo of hand-woven carpets – globally considered the crown jewel of its handicrafts industry – to the US in February after the sanctions against the country were lifted.
The cargo was sent to Los Angeles from Hamburg.
In the US, 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.
There are almost 1 million carpet weavers in Iran, 700,000 of whom are working full-time.
Before the intensification of US-led sanctions against Iran in 2011, the country exported more than $600 million worth of carpets – mostly to the US - and had serious plans to raise it to $1 billion in the next year.
A nuclear accord that came into effect last January lifted the ban on exports of Iranian carpets to the US among other economic bans in return for Iran’s steps to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities.