Iran rugs back in US in early 2016


TEHRAN: Head of Iran National Carpet Center (INCC) expects direct exports of Persian rugs to the US to resume early next year, returning the key producer of hand-knotted floor coverings to the market which has been overtaken by India.
US ban on imports of Iranian carpets in 2010 under the sanctions regime deleted one of the major markets for Persian rugs which are intricately crafted by rural families of often modest means.
Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama signed an order directing his administration to take steps toward lifting sanctions on Iran in accordance with a July nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic.
“This is a promising piece of news for Iran’s carpet traders because an article of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provides for the possibility of exporting certain Iranian goods such as rugs, pistachio nuts and caviar to the US,” INCC head Hamid Kargar said.
A delegation of American merchants will visit Iran to revive trade in Persian carpets which are the country’s biggest exports after hydrocarbons and their derivatives, and pistachio nuts, Kargar has already said.
According to the official, carpet exports stood at $330 million at the end of the last Iranian year in March — a fraction of the billion-dollar business before the sanctions were imposed.
Carpet-weaving traces its origins to ancient Persia and is mingled with the Iranian art and culture. Renowned for their exquisite patterns, natural dyes and skilled knit, handcrafted Iranian rugs are a fixture in hotel chains, big mansions and embassies.    
Iranian rugs dominated the US market with a 16.5% share worth $82 million before the sanctions. China, Pakistan and India used the vacuum left by Iran, starting production of rugs in the Persian pattern and selling them to the US.
Kargar said Iran faces an uphill struggle to reclaim its share both in competition with its cheap rivals and in adjusting to the modern tastes of customers.

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