Rationale for Iran lifting its decades-long ban on car imports

(MENAFN) After more than four years, Iran is set to import its first foreign-made cars in the coming months in an effort to stabilize the country's unstable automotive business, which is plagued by monopolies and affordability concerns.

Over four months after his administration had initially authorized the imports, President Ebrahim Raisi's cabinet last week finally gave its approval to a bylaw authorizing the importation of foreign-made road vehicles.

President Hassan Rouhani, Raisi's predecessor, had formally outlawed car imports in the Completely Built Unit (CBU) style in July 2018, only allowing the Completely Knocked-Down (CKD) format, in which vehicles are imported in parts rather than as an entire unit.

The choice was made in response to the unilateral U.S. exit from the nation's 2015 nuclear agreement with major world powers, which was followed by waves of extensive economic penalties and a financial crisis.

CKD imports of a range of Chinese vehicles, which have now swamped the market, were made possible by major Western partners withdrawing from the Iranian market.

The state-run Iran Khodro, which has been in charge of producing automobiles of mediocre quality that have also grown increasingly out of reach of the average consumer as a result of the currency crisis and the high inflation that followed it, nonetheless controls a sizeable portion of the market.


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