Persian Rug Embargo Lifted

persian rug embargo

After months and years of unfounded rumors, the Persian rug embargo has been lifted.  The embargo has been in place fully since September 2010 as part of an effort to persuade Iran into dismantling their nuclear programs.  Tensions have been high between the US and Iran since the 1970’s, and embargoes have been commonplace.

Persian Rug Embargo Lifted

Iranian and U.S. officials announced on January 23rd that Iran had complied with the terms of last summer’s landmark deal to dismantle its nuclear program and that the sanctions that have crippled the nation’s economy would be lifted. The move will give the Iranian government access to more than $50 billion in frozen assets and oil revenue. It also allows some exceptions to trade embargoes against Iran. (The full trade embargo has not been lifted.)  Of particular interest to us is the ability to now import Persian rugs.

Estimates show that the United States accounted for more than 20% of all of Iran’s rug export prior to the re-enactment of the embargo in 2010.  The lifting of the Persian rug embargo will certainly help oriental rug dealers in the US and Iran, but will the market follow suit?

How will this affect prices?

I’m no oracle, but I think that prices of Persian goods will drop from current levels.  (More supply with slipping demand.)

Throughout the most recent embargo, many oriental rug dealers raised prices on all of the Persian goods, saying that the lack of supply could no longer meet demand.  While this may have been true of exceptional quality high-end pieces, it was not necessarily true of more common pieces.  Supply abounded in the US, even without trade lines remaining open.  The move to raise prices by oriental rug dealers proved a poor decision, and the market for true Persian rugs in the US faltered.

The supply of Iranian rugs is now beginning to trickle in again.  Will the demand for Persian rug return to pre-embargo levels?  Only time will tell.  Personally, this rug dealer doesn’t think so.  Quality and construction techniques from other countries such as India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have increased to meet or exceed most Iranian rugs that will be imported.  For collectors and consumers wanting an investment-quality piece, exceptionally fine Persian rugs and antiques will dominate the market.  But for consumers looking for antique reproductions at a more affordable price-point, other countries will likely lead the way.

Looking to the future.

On a personal note, I am very excited to see the re-introduction of Persian rug into the market.  The significance of these items not just in the world of textiles and floor covering, but in the art world in general, is impossible to measure.  Over 3000 years of design and art history are represented in each one.  Anytime you can bring something of that nature into your home, it is a great experience.

Stay tuned for more information on this subject.  We will be sure to update as events unfold.

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