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Talk in the Trade: Iran by IWTO President Peter Ackroyd

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The recent signing (14 July) of the Nuclear Treaty between Iran and the six powers in Vienna will see a gradual reduction of sanctions and a normalisation of diplomatic and trade relations between Teheran and the rest of the world. The former UK Ambassador to Iran from 2003 to 2006, Sir Richard Dalton has described the agreement as ‘solid and robust’.

Iran has a fast growing population, currently just under 80m and a stagnant economy caused by sanctions difficult to circumvent. The Iranian textile industry is decidedly run down, but surprisingly self sufficient. Cotton and wool spinning and weaving has necessarily been the sole supplier of domestic demand, both civil and military, since the Islamic Revolution of 1978. In the days of the Shah, worsted weaving flourished as did the traditional hand knotted carpet manufacturing for which the cities of Tabriz and Qum are world renowned.

The International Wool Secretariat opened an office in Teheran in the 1970s, transferring to Cairo following the Revolution. Iran was a buoyant market for premium imported worsteds from the UK and Italy until 1978. Even during the years of revolutionary fervour, some famous foreign fabric brands made their way to the Iranian bazaars via Syria.

Iran experiences hot summers in the arid southern regions and cool winters in the northern regions around Teheran and Tabriz, making the country an ideal market for the ‘Wool for all Seasons’ message. Iranians like wool and have worked with it for centuries. Economics currently favour polyester/wool blends. There are three large producers. A leading worsted weaver is Golnesar Woolen Company that is currently producing 2m metres per year.

Talk of an imminent economic boom is perhaps premature, but the bazaars of Teheran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas and beyond are preparing for something of a bonanza after three lean decades and a devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Source: IWTO


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