Iran is banning the import of foreign-made cars, laptops, and other "luxury" goods in the hope of saving billions of dollars in hard currency, claims a report published by the state-owned IRAN daily.
The daily lists 75 products, ranging from luxury items like cars, watches or cell phones to basic, everyday things like coffee and toilet paper, that can no longer be purchased from abroad. The report quoted Iranian commerce chief Hamid Reza Safdel, who said import permissions were no longer being issued for the items listed. Goods previously approved for import will still enter the country.
The Islamic Republic's residents who are worried about not being able to get their hands on a new gadget or a fancy watch can relax, however – the ban apparently doesn’t cover components of said luxury items, only the finalized products. Items assembled on Iranian territory – like watches or laptops – will still be available to anyone with the means to purchase them.
They may have to make do with local toilet paper, as that obviously can’t be assembled or imported in parts – and swap their coffee habit for tea instead.
The ban is aimed at saving Iran money in tough times – the country’s been hit hard by Western sanctions, and the daily claims the ban could save the Islamic Republic $4 billion annually. But critics argue it may boost smuggling from neighboring countries, which according to officials now comprises $15 billion worth of goods a year.
The Iranian government provides dollars at a rate of 12,260 rials each for specified priority goods. On the open market, a dollar costs around 30,000 rials.
The sanctions caused a slide in Iran's currency, which has lost about two thirds of its value against the dollar in the open market over the past year and a half.