It feels peculiar to connect foreign policy to home decor, but President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal will affect American rug sellers, interior designers and lovers of Persian carpets. As part of the withdrawal, U.S. dealers will once again be banned from importing these richly colored and patterned rugs from Iran.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, a division of the Treasury Department, says on its website that U.S. rug dealers must wind down their Iranian imports by Aug. 6. They will not be allowed to import Iranian-made rugs from other countries, either, even if those rugs have been out of Iran for decades. Dealers will still be permitted to sell Persian rugs that are already in the U.S.
Earlier this month, online marketplace Etsy informed Persian rug dealers that it was removing their listings even if the rugs are already in their U.S. inventory.
The United States has imposed sanctions against Iran, including trade embargoes affecting Persian rugs, on and off since the hostage crisis that began in 1979. The most recent trade restrictions were imposed in 2010, after the United Nations found Iran secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program. In January 2016, the Obama administration, in cooperation with other countries, removed those sanctions. Free to trade once again, U.S. rug dealers made up for lost time, reportedly bringing in $56 million worth of carpets from Iran in 2016 and $97 million in 2017.
That inventory means that even though the pipeline of Persian rugs is about to dry up, prices may not go up for quite a while. "I do not expect Persian rug prices to go up any more than they already have," said Richard Amatulli of the Oriental Rug Retailers of America.