Iran Bans Imports Of 75 “Luxury Goods” – Including Toilet Paper & Coffee


The Iranian government on Thursday announced a temporary ban on all foreign imports of 75 so-called “luxury goods”, including high-end cars, coffee and even toilet paper, reported the Associated Press, in an attempt to promote domestic-made products while saving billions of dollars used to purchases these products from overseas.


The Iranian government on Thursday announced a temporary ban on all foreign imports of 75 so-called “luxury goods”, including high-end cars, coffee and even toilet paper, reported the Associated Press, in an attempt to promote domestic-made products while saving billions of dollars used to purchases these products from overseas.

According to Commerce Ministry official, Sasan Khodaei, in an interview with the government-run Iran Daily, the measure could save the nation over $4 billion in hard currency every year, which would be crucial to the government’s efforts to build a “resistance economy” in order to ride out crippling Western sanctions.

[quote]”Those products not produced domestically will be removed from the list (of banned items) but most of the named products are produced in the country and there is no need to import them,” Khodaei added, as cited by Reuters. [/quote]

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Among the list of now banned items included home appliances, clothing and toiletries. AP reported that while a number of blocked products – such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and cosmetics – have made-in-Iran alternatives, many consumers strongly prefer better-quality imports from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.

Some critics also say that the new bans will only boost black market imports, which now comprises $15 billion worth of goods annually, according to some estimates.

“People will find a way to smuggle in what the Iranian consumer wants…they always have,” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, a Syracuse University professor who follows Iranian affairs, to AP.

Western sanctions on Iran’s oil exports has caused the Iranian rial to lose about two-thirds of its value against the US dollar in the open market over the past 15 months. After many Iranians began converting their savings into dollars and euros, the government responded by restricting Iranians’ access to hard currency and setting up its own official foreign exchange centre.

According to Reuters, Iran spends over $50 billion a year importing foreign merchandise, $12 billion of which goes to “luxury and non-essential goods.”

In October, the government also banned the export of around 50 basic goods including wheat, flour, sugar, and red meat, so as to reduce its reliance on imports, while keeping its foreign exchange reserves intact.

[quote]”It seems the government is desperate to control the flow of money outside the country,” Boroujerdi noted. “If you want a clear signal about how the [Western] sanctions are hitting Iran, this is a good one.”[/quote]

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