Iran exported $36 million worth of furniture during the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Dec. 21) to register a huge hike of 227% compared with last year’s corresponding period.Iraq, Afghanistan and Oman were the biggest destinations for Iranian furniture during the period. These countries registered a respective year-on-year growth of 241%, 157% and 160% in their imports of Iranian furniture.Iran’s furniture industry is said to have an 8% share in generating employment nationwide, IRNA reported. National Hub of Furniture ProductionThe western Iranian city of Malayer in Hamedan Province was recognized as the national hub of furniture making and wood carving three months ago.Esmaeil Amini, the managing director of Marlik Furniture Production Group (a local furniture producer), told Financial Tribune in an interview that Malayer accounts for 65-70% of Iran’s total furniture production.According to Amini, over 15,000 people are working in Malayer in the field of furniture making and wood carving.“You hardly see a family in Malayer whose members are not involved in the furniture industry,” he said on the sidelines of the 26th International Exhibition of Home Furniture, also known as HOFEX 2017.“Some 85,000 sets of carved furniture are produced in Iran every year, 50,000 of which are produced in Malayer alone,” he said.He noted that Malayer has great potential for exports, as its geographical position allows the easy transit of goods to other countries and in view of the high quality of its products.Referring to the presence of foreign products in the Iranian furniture market, Amini said imports, mainly from Turkey, Italy and China, have a 20-30% share in the domestic furniture market. Mahmoud Hosseinpour, the managing director of Honarvaran Furniture Gallery, told Financial Tribune that as the development of furniture industry is heavily dependent on up-to-date technology and equipment, Iranian furniture producers faced many problems during sanctions, which prevented the import of technology. "Unfortunately, the absence of latest technology and domestic barriers such as high import tariffs and heavy taxes have not allowed Iranian producers to reach their full potential," he said.He added that producers have to import raw materials for furniture production since Iranian raw materials in this industry are of low quality.In this regard, high import tariffs set by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration have done a number on producers who have to incur heavy costs.Hosseinpour noted that Iran's furniture exports are not considerable since Iranian furniture cannot compete with foreign furniture in terms of price.“Quality is not an issue but because Iranian producers have to raise their end prices to make up for their relatively high costs, they lose out to their rivals in foreign markets,” he explained. Self-Sufficiency in Office FurnitureRamin Samizadeh of the Association of Furniture Makers says that in the field of office furniture, Iran is self-sufficient. "Almost all the products in the market are domestically produced and their high quality has made them popular among customers," he said.“Our office furniture exports are not more than $30 million annually, with most of the shipments heading to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Central Asian countries. We have no exports of these items to Europe, though our house furniture does have customers in the green continent,” he said.Samizadeh noted that of the 50,000 production units active in the furniture industry, some 3,000 are engaged in producing office furniture. “The industry accounts for 8% of all jobs in Iran," he said.Noting that the raw material for the business is mainly wood, he said, “The domestic market can partly meet the need and the rest is imported in the form of particle boards and medium-density fiberboards. If import tariffs are lowered, production will increase and the country can benefit from a higher added value on these products.” The 27th International Exhibition of Home Furniture was held at Tehran’s International Fairground in August 2018. The exhibition is one of the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, according to the event’s website at Persiafipco.com. (ICE Teheran)
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