Iran freezes import of 'luxury goods': reports

A picture taken on January 23, 2012, shows Iranians walking past a currency exchange store in Tehran. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE

TEHRAN: Iran has frozen the import of more than 2,000 products deemed "luxury goods" to address a shortage of foreign currency caused by Western sanctions, media reports said Thursday quoting trade officials.

According to partial lists published by various media, the products include various brands of cosmetics, confectionery, clothing and jewellery as well as cars, construction materials, computers and cellphones.

The measure could save Iran $4 billion a year, deputy trade minister Hamid Safdel said, while confirming the ban on some commodities which could be made locally, the government-run Iran daily reported.

Safdel said import of certain items, such as computers and cellphones, could be restored should the Iranian industry fail to provide them.

Under harsh Western sanctions over its controversial nuclear activities, Iran is struggling against what it calls an "economic war" and to cope with punitive measures targeting its vital oil revenues and access to global financial systems.

The sanctions have caused a shortage of foreign currency in Iran, sparking the collapse last month of the Iranian rial and sending inflation soaring.

Due to sanctions imposed on the banking sector, Iranian imports have declined by over 10 percent to $26 billion in the six-month period from March 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to official figures.

Most imports in the period comprised raw materials, intermediate product and industrial spare parts.

Consumer products, including those deemed as luxury by the trade ministry, accounted for nearly 28 percent of total imports in the six-month period, the figures show.





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