Economy, Domestic Economy

Machine Carpet Industry Making Inroads

Machine Carpet Industry Making Inroads  Machine Carpet Industry Making Inroads

Machine made carpets have replaced hand-woven exquisite rugs in many Iranian homes due largely to the much lower prices and diversity of pattern, designs and colors. Iran produces more than 80 million square meters of machine woven carpets annually of which almost 50 million sqm are sold in domestic market and the remaining exported.

Alireza Haeri, board member of Iran Textile Association recently told the press that machine made carpet exports account for more than 50 percent of Iran's total textile and fabric exports, valued at over $750 million. Afghanistan, Iraq, Persian Gulf and Middle East countries are major importers of this product. He added that the economic sanctions, imposed on Iran by the United Nations and the US-led western powers over the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, have restricted carpet exports to Europe and other major markets.

Iran has the capacity to annually produce more than 120 million sqm of machine made rugs, with more than 1,300 carpet manufacturing facilities in the country, majority of which are located in Kashan and Aran-Bidgol region in Esfahan Province and the central Yazd Province. "Iranian carpets comply with the highest global standards, having been manufactured with locally produced acrylic, polyester and propylene yarns and weaving machines imported from internationally recognized brands such as Belgium's VanDeWiele and Germany's Schonherr."

Haeri notes that "our immediate neighbor, Turkey makes close to $2 billion every year from the export of machine made carpets whereas Iran's share reaches barely $300 million."  He lamented the fact that Iran is left behind in the global market due to the "unfair economic sanctions despite its potential to become a top exporter" of this item that has gradually become popular in homes in many countries in the region and beyond.

Having been deprived of the large and growing global market for machine made carpets and moquette due to the economic embargo, manufacturers have, albeit reluctantly, fixed their gaze on the large domestic market and seek to woo customers with larger varieties, colors, designs and modern patterns. Relatively lower prices compared to the expensive handmade silk, wool and acrylic carpets, however, is the main feature attracting customers to the former.

Machine made carpets and moquettes have been produced in Iran for more than half a century, but their popularity grew at a much faster space in the recent past, mostly due to economic constrictions which have rendered Iranian households unable to purchase hand-woven rugs carpets. Today the price of one square meter of  machine made carpet ranges anywhere between $20 to 100 in the domestic market, depending on quality and brand. This is while the value of a square meter of handmade carpet is equivalent to that of a large machine made carpet spreading over 9-12 square meters.

Small wonder that the machined rugs have found their way into Iranian homes at a much faster pace compared to the 1970s-80s  when the handmade carpets were affordable and even those with medium and low income could at least buy a pair of the woolen, if not the silken, carpet.

Those in the carpet business are now a bit more optimistic that Iran could turn into a big exporter of machine made rugs, if and when the sanctions, which have created a plethora of banking, finance, shipping insurance problems for manufacturers and exporters, are eased.