Imports to be managed, not barred

The four ministries which are active in the import of goods were recently given a 10-day deadline by the ministry of commerce to prepare lists of banned products for import. During the same time the chairman of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines made reference to the supreme leader's speech last week and said to a gathering of entrepreneurs and traders, "The leader strongly believes in controlling imports, not barring them altogether."

The Persian language daily, Donya-e-Eqtesad, quoted Yahya Al-e Es'haq as saying that a group is taking advantage of the recent remarks by the Leader advising officials to prohibit import of goods altogether and pointed out that "the leader underscored that the import of goods must be controlled in order to help out and boost domestic production."

He noted that efforts to produce high-quality products was another point touched upon in the leader's speech, and noted, "Controlling the import of goods is mainly in correlation with the quality of domestic production and concerns the consumers' rights."

The chairman stated that the government has a main role in planning and expanding the business environment, and added, "The huge and essential step that the government can take in regard to the administrative atmosphere is to reduce the red tape."

Al-e Es'haq cited resource management as another point highlighted by the leader, and said, "In this regard, not only financial resources, but also human resources and natural resources and all other resources that lead to growth and development must be managed in such a manner that all those active in economy, both public and private sectors, be included."

In the leaders view efficient resource management is a main challenge of the economy and this important matter is an issue that must be followed up by the officials, he said.

The chairman of Tehran Chamber of Commerce went on to say the leader also underscored Article 44 (of the Iranian Constitution related the country's economic system in general, specifying privatization) in his speech and stated that this bill is not only about ownership, but also about management, and reiterated, "The transfer of ownership must be in such a way to encourage the private sector to have active participation."

Al-e Es'haq noted ways of bypassing the sanctions imposed on Iran and cited planning in this regard as another objective the leader touched upon in his speech, and stated, "The present soft war of the West against Iran is nothing new and sanctions have been imposed for over 30 years and they must be dealt with through planning, will power and increasing competence so each day we are better than the previous day.

Last week, following the issuance of a list of 170 low-quality goods by the Trade Promotion Organization that must not be imported any more, 49 agricultural products were selected to be banned from being imported by the ministry of Agricultural Jihad. The Trade Promotion Organization director stated that he had also received a list of 1,300 industrial products that are being reviewed for their import status. 

Meanwhile, Tehran Times reported on September 13 that Iran has restricted the imports of 20 agricultural products in a bid to enhance national productivity and boost domestic production in response to international sanctions.

"Imports of beef, rice, wheat, and a various fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, and pears have been banned," Khabaronline quoted Babak Afqahi head of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran as saying.

If the domestic products are not improved in terms of quality and the consumer prices are not lowered, the national economy would face serious problems, Arsalan Fathipour, the head of the Majlis Economic Committee stated in August, Jamejamonline reported.

Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani had previously said the nation should limit imports only to "necessary goods" to help lift domestic production and make savings in the country's FOREX reserves.

"Imports should be reduced," Bahmani was quoted as saying. "In other words, we should not allow the import of every sort of product."

Four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions and separate penalties imposed by the United States and its European allies have hit Iran's economy as the country battles inflation and unemployment but have failed to persuade the country to halt a key part of its nuclear program.

Iranian officials argue that sanctions are counterproductive, depriving Western firms of access to the country's market while simultaneously boosting Tehran's self-sufficiency.

Iran has a well developed automotive and airline sector, and local companies have increasingly stepped in to fill the void created by Western nations that have shunned the country's vital oil sector.

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