Some $3 billion worth of contraband is entering Iran each year, including $1 billion worth of foreign produced cigarettes, reported IRNA, Iran’s state news agency. Indeed, according to Hossein Nassiri, the secretary of Supreme Council of Free Trade Zones (FTZs), of 45 billion cigarettes that are smoked annually in Iran, 30 billion are smuggled into the country without any taxes being paid to the government.
However, Nassiri was critical of the way that the Iranian law enforcement agencies were devoting most of their time to combating illegal cigarette imports, while ignoring the illegal import of other items. "Television sets are smuggled to Iran from Afghanistan and side-by-side refrigerators from the Republic of Nakhchivan, but nobody cares about this in the FTZs," he said.
Nonetheless, Nassiri denied that the FTZs were responsible for the problem, and he criticized those who opposing the zones’ existence.
Earlier, Behrouz Bushehri, the managing director of the southern Qeshm FTZ noted that smuggling of goods predates the existence of the FTZs and, therefore, contraband could be claimed to be a result of their operation. He said that the solution to the problem was a job for law enforcement, which should apprehend the smugglers and deal with them accordingly.
There are currently three major FTZs operating in Iran, including Chabahar port on the Oman Sea, and Kish and Qeshm islands in the Persian Gulf. – (Albawaba-MEBG)