People, Travel

Iran Targets Post-IS Iraq for Handicraft Export

Iran Targets Post-IS Iraq for Handicraft ExportIran Targets Post-IS Iraq for Handicraft Export

Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization is planning to arrange meetings with established handicraft exporters to Iraq to return the volume of exports to the days prior to the emergence of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group (aka ISIS or Daesh).

With Daesh being slowly pushed out of Mosul—the group's last bastion in Iraq—Iranian officials feel that many countries will return to the Iraqi market, but "given our cultural similarity and geographical proximity, we must be able to become the largest exporter to this country", said Bahman Namvar Motlaq, handicrafts deputy at the organization, IRNA reported.

Following Iran's nuclear deal with the world powers last year, the United States and Britain began importing Iranian handiworks and are currently among the top importers.  Motlaq argued that the inclusion of two craftsmen among Iran's 50 leading exporters this year indicates that handicrafts are a key non-oil export product.

"This is the first time two exporters of handicrafts have been selected but our potential is much more," he said.

Once a major source of revenue, the handicrafts sector suffered a setback following the imposition of international economic sanctions on Tehran, most of which were lifted in January thanks to Iran’s compliance with its obligations laid out in the historic nuclear deal signed last year.

Nevertheless, resurgence in the sector started in 2013 when President Hassan Rouhani took office. The government allocated 2 trillion rials ($56 million) to the handicraft sector in the last fiscal year as low-interest loans to artisans. Iran’s revenue from handicraft exports, excluding hand-woven carpets, is predicted to hit $1 billion by the end of the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21), according to ICHHTO.

Annually, handicrafts rake in $200 million, while annual earnings from carpet exports amount to more than $300 million.


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