AFP: Iranian contraband trade is worth 19 billion dollars a year, according to estimates by the head of Iran’s anti-smuggling department, cited by a local newspaper on Thursday.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian contraband trade is worth 19 billion dollars a year, according to estimates by the head of Iran’s anti-smuggling department, cited by a local newspaper on Thursday.
“Some 16 billion dollars worth of goods have been smuggled into Iran, while three billion dollars worth have been exported illegally during the last Iranian year,” that ended in March 2010, Saeed Mortazavi was quoted as saying in Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper.
Smuggled imports represent one third of what Iran imports legally, which amounted to around 50 billion dollars during the same period, another official from the same department, Samad Marashi, was reported as saying by the Mehr news agency.
Mortazavi, who was Tehran’s hardline prosecutor prior to his recent appointment, gave no further details of the goods being smuggled into and out of the country.
“Only three percent of smuggled goods are identified and seized by the police,” he said, adding that the large majority of contraband is smuggled “by powerful organised gangs that we must identify.”
Much of the illegal trafficking takes place between Iran and its number one trade partner the United Arab Emirates, with around one hundred speedboats smuggling goods daily across the Gulf, an official at the Iranian chamber of commerce Hamid Hosseini said last year.
But Iran’s territorial borders are also witnessing contraband activity, especially those with Iraq, ever since the fall of ex-president Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Smuggling is steadily on the rise and “its volumes are so significant that the department fighting it cannot stop it on its own,” Hosseini said last year.
Experts regularly warn Tehran of the dangers of large quantities of goods being smuggled into the country.
Illegal trade feeds the underground economy, weighing on Iran’s economic growth and investment levels and aggravating unemployment and inflation, according to Marashi.