One of the major concerns for the Iranian economy in recent years has been the vast influx of goods imported via illicit channels.
The illegal transportation of commercial goods is nothing new. It has an old and controversial history dating back - by some accounts - to the 13th century; where the first customs systems were created.
Smuggling can happen either when commercial goods are being imported into a country or when goods are being exported from a country.
It knows no borders and affects all countries irrespective of their political or economic standing. Official estimations put the figure for the turnover of smuggled goods between 20-25 billion US dollars; twice the Iranian government’s current national construction budget.
Some analysts argue that one reason for the vast exposure of Iran to this economic malady is Tehran’s vast exposure to a sustained climate of economic sanctions imposed on the country for many years.
Another sobering root cause for smuggling goods in Iran is perhaps the prohibition of certain products in the market. A number of these commodities are those that cannot be produced or purchased in the free market.
Iran is not a signatory of international trading agreements and is accustomed to raising tariff to as high as nearly 175% in some instances, as a means to protect its local industries.
The Iranian Central Task Force to Combat the Smuggling of Commodities and Currency is a department affiliated with the Presidential Office, and headed by the president's special representative to fight against contraband. It is argued that every 10,000 US dollar worth of contraband equals the erosion of at least one job opportunity for a young Iranian.
Hence, it won’t be hard to imagine the country is losing an annual rate of close to 1 million job opportunities. The rate of unemployment in Iran as far back as 6 months ago stood in absolute excess of 2.5 million individuals.
The official was also heard saying the issue of illegal import or export of goods has hit the very heart of the Iranian workforce by seriously undermining its vitality, stability and prosperity.