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Two-Thirds Of Appliances And Home Electronics Sold In Iran 'Smuggled Goods', Official Says

The headquarters of the Iranian Anti-Smuggling Task Force. Undated photo.

The spokesman of Iran's Anti-Smuggling Task Force, Hamid-Reza Dehghaninia, on Thursday said according to the estimates of several state bodies and the Parliament two-thirds of the home appliances and electronics sold in Iran last year were smuggled goods.

Dehghaninia said the value of home appliances and home electronics sold in the country during the said period (March 21 2018-March 20, 2019) amounted to $3.3b but only commodities worth $1.1b were legally obtained and sold, the rest had been smuggled into the country and thus had been tax-free.

The legally procured home appliances and electronics during this one-year period included $897m of domestically manufactured goods and legally imported commodities worth $296m. The anti-smuggling official said home appliances and electronics are one of the five major groups of commodities smuggled into the country.

According to the latest statistics published by Iran's Anti-Smuggling Task Force, the value of smuggled goods for the period between March 21 2017-March 20, 2018 amounted to $12 billion while according to the Iranian Customs Organization the total value of legally imported goods in the same period was $54.5b, which means one-fifth of all imported commodities were smuggled.

While commodities such as home appliances and electronics, computers and mobile phones, cigarettes, textile, foodstuff, medical equipment and beauty products are smuggled into the country, before the government increased the price of gasoline by threefold in November, gasoline and other oil products were smuggled out, particularly to neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan where fuel is much more expensive.

A top anti-smuggling official in July 2019 said that around 11 million liters or close to 3 million gallons of subsidized gasoline was smuggled out of the country on a daily basis which was more than 10% of the fuel sold in the country.

The volume and value of smuggled goods into the country is so high many say it is impossible to attribute it only to those who run smuggling businesses on their own, without support from corrupt officials and entities.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2011 charged that the Revolutionary Guard was involved in smuggling and called Guard commanders "our smuggler brothers", a name that has stuck since then. The matter was never officially investigated but Revolutionary Guard officials strongly refuted the accusation at the time.