TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s sanctions-fighting “resistance economy” suddenly got a lot leaner, less flashy and perhaps a bit more uncomfortable.
The Islamic Republic announced Thursday a ban on imports of 75 so-called luxury products – ranging from high-end cars to coffee to toilet paper – part of efforts to promote domestic products and stem the outflow of dollars and other foreign currency as Western economic pressures increasingly choke off Iran’s commerce and critical oil revenue.
It’s the most sweeping measure so far to batten down the Iranian economy, although the move is not likely to leave showrooms and store shelves empty.
It allows for foreign parts to be shipped in for local assembly plants, which make cars such as Peugeots, European-brand home appliances, laptops and mobile phones – all covered by the new ban.
There also are many Iranian-made alternatives to the list of now-blocked toiletries and beauty products – toothpaste, soap, shampoo, cosmetics and even toilet paper – but many consumers strongly prefer often better-quality imports from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.
“It seems the government is desperate to control the flow of money outside the country,” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, a Syracuse University professor who follows Iranian affairs.