Persian rugs are amongst the most sought after pieces of decoration available. Their ever present placement in households is due to their popularity as some of the most intricate floor pieces to accentuate a room.
In the United States alone, almost a billion dollars worth of rugs finds their way into consumer’s homes each year. It’s a massive export and source of revenue for Iranian business owners and skilled laborers. But, genuine Persian carpets became harder to purchase after sanctions were placed by the US government against Iran.
The Sanction Situation
The sanctions were meant to bottleneck the amount of trade between the US and Iran. Between 2011 and early January during 2016, there was a substantial blockage due to tension between the two countries.
Almost a third of all rugs were imported by the United States. The sanctions were only lifted after an intensive series of negotiations lead to a massive, previously unheard of nuclear limit deal was struck.
While initially, the change was gradual, after only a few months, more than $60 million dollars had been spent on the pricey rugs.
The reason is simple, a shipment of only 40-50 genuine rugs can be worth between $4,000 to $60,000+ depending on the detail and design.
As one of the key products that Iran exports globally, handmade rugs are as much an economic totem pole of Iran as it is a cultural one.
At the higher end, large pieces can go for upwards of $95,000. The high prices are due both to the labor intensive process of creating each rug as well as the iron grip the US has on the amount that can be imported. The tumultuous economy of Iran is in part dependent on the revenue.
What This Means For The FutureThe resulting situation is a very fluid market that is susceptible to politics. Business owners are essentially at the mercy of the on-off business relationship between Iran and the United States.
The respective alliances of Iran and the US also mean that outside influence could cause the market to fluctuate and sanctions to re-emerge at any time.
Between these two countries, the ones that suffer the most are the consumers. It keeps the limited amount of good handmade rugs expensive and subsequently hard to access. This limits both the producers and dealers as well, leading to finding more illicit means to transport them. All around, it can lead to a price hike of 50-200%.
Despite the frustrating situation, as tensions decrease and the flow of products relaxes, Iran is more invested than ever in working out a better deal. Iran’s economy is dependent on its exporting resources and relationships to maintain it’s power in the region.
Even with the step forward regarding legality, certain factions are still working to boycott or block Iranian exports. The reasons can vary from their alleged human rights violations to women's health issues.
Ultimately, the next year to two years is going to be indicative of the long-term import relations with Iran pending the newest US President's trade perspective.