Iran reportedly bans imports of foreign ‘luxury’ goods

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Iran is reportedly banning the import of foreign cars, laptops and scores of other ‘luxury’ goods in an effort to protect its stash of hard currency.

Iran Daily, a state-owned newspaper, reported Thursday that a long list of foreign products including cellphones and cosmetics could not be purchased from abroad. More than 70 kinds of foreign goods were included on its published list, including home appliances, apparel and luxury cars such as Porsches.

Products that could not be made domestically could later be removed from the list after more review, the article said, but those that could be produced inside Iran would remain banned.

The step comes as Iran faces continued pressure from Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program. The value of Iranian currency has plunged dramatically over the last year, forcing Iranians to scale back. Western government experts believe its foreign currency reserves are in danger of running out, pushing it toward an “economic drop dead date.”


Banning the chosen goods would save $4 billion annually, Iran Daily reported. The last time the country took such steps was during its 1980-88 war with Iraq, when a group called Self-Sufficiency Jihad was founded to investigate what imported goods could be substituted with domestic products. The ban could end up propelling more smuggling into Iran. In a fast-food shop in Tehran, one woman rattled off the foreign goods she would continue to seek out.

“I need cosmetics for my skin. Anti-aging cream, lotion, shampoo, you name it,” said FarZane Hasani, 52, while sipping a Diet Coke. “From now on I have to rely on smuggled items” or turn to herbal alternatives, she said.


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-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran. Emily Alpert in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Photo: Iranian shopkeeper Masoud Hatami works at a home appliance store in Tehran. Credit: Vahid Salemi / Associated Press