After the 2018 sanctions against Iran, the brokers affiliated with the government find out that soon they will have no opportunity to benefit from the oil exports and its dollars.
Given the sanctions’ pressure, drop in the oil price, and extreme budget deficits and government debts, officials had no choice but to make the entry channels of imported goods smaller and narrower to heal the lost currencies’ casualties.
The government’s brokers and smugglers coerced the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to import millions of tons of goods and supplies needed by the market. They highlighted the market’s shortage of essential goods through affiliated media. They also made millions of dollars to clear these goods.
The CBI, which knew that the remaining amounts of foreign currencies were gradually declining, created obstacles in the distribution of foreign exchange rents in order to overcome the situation.
This fight over the dollars, which was supposed to be a new income source and huge profits for government importers, turned into a mafia and factional war. Each of which on one side of the conflict seeks to make profits of billions of rials.
As the mafia war intensified over importers of goods and currency distributors, public opinion gained more and more information from untold stories.
Why billions of dollars of goods have been deposited in the country’s ports and customs, and the CBI and the Customs Office do not allow clearance?
“About seven billion dollars of goods have been deposited in the country’s customs. Under the pretext of shortage of basic goods and their decay during this period, significant pressure was applied to clear them. Finally, the import order was issued in the applicant’s currency. But why was the CBI opposed to allocating applicant currency for imports, and what would be the consequences?” Eghtesad Online wrote on November 2.
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On the other hand, the government media exploited the situation to take advantage of the market shortage and pressure the sectors that had the authority to distribute government currency.
“Blocking the ways to exports and increasing the inflow of foreign exchange from non-oil exports of small exporters and locking in imports with the term ‘customs clearance’ has become two tools to prolong the period of crisis in the domestic market. The term ‘customs clearance’ has entered the country’s media literature two years ago and has played a role in justifying the high cost of goods and shortages in the market,” Tasnim news agency wrote on September 30.
However, in its November 15 report, Javan Online shed more light on the dilemma’s root. “A review of measures and approvals to reduce the deposit of goods from 2018 to November of this year indicates the lack of proper strategy and planning, along with disagreements between trade-related agencies and the CBI to provide foreign exchange,” the website wrote.
“The accumulation and deposition of goods in ports and customs became a new challenge in the second half of 2018, because, before that, basic goods, essential raw materials of production and intermediates were available in warehouses or at the country’s entry points and were cleared almost without any problem… Gradually, with the tightening of sanctions and a sharp decline in oil exports and, consequently, the country’s limited foreign exchange resources, the issue of goods deposited in customs increased,” Javan Online added.
For the first time in the second half of 2018, customs officials warned in reports of an increase in the volume of goods behind the country’s gates. Many of them are either not declared to customs for various reasons or, if stated, customs formalities and clearance permits are suspended for various reasons.
“But the fact is that there is significant damage in this area. Some commodity owners import goods that are not necessary and a priority for the country and are stored, so with the code name of sediment, the government is under pressure to determine its task. With these descriptions, the main problems of sedimentation went back to the issue of specialization and currency supply,” Fars news agency reported on November 14.
On the other hand, the private sector cannot compete with the government’s factions and only complains about this matter.
“Some tried to import large quantities of goods contrary to the notification instructions… Others can easily re-import goods into the country, convert the imported goods into rials, repurchase the mentioned items. They can re-leave the country and continue the money laundering and smuggling cycle through money laundering and using it as the applicant currency,” Jahan-e Sanat daily quoted Majid Reza Hariri, President of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, as saying on November 25.
“Therefore, there is no applicant currency and no import without currency transfer. All import needs are met either through the free currency market, which increases the high demand for money despite the limited supply of the market and raises the currency price, or through the sale of smuggled goods abroad,” he added.
“To find out the facts, it is enough to look at the announcement of the import of 420 containers of home appliances. To see to what extent domestic organized gangs, that all institutions and organizations are involved in forming and strengthening it, and are changing the rules and regulations in their favor,” Hariri ended.