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Can Iran shield its embattled auto sector?

Amid a parliamentary move to hike car import tariffs, debate surfaces on the wider problem of what to do about Iran's troubled auto sector.
An Iranian worker works on a production line of carmaker Iran Khodro, west of Tehran June 20, 2011.  Unusually for the Middle East, Iran has developed its domestic car industry for five decades and produced 1.6 million vehicles last year, about half of them made by Iran Khodro which aims to export around 10 percent of its production this year. Even with sanctions, which have scared off some suppliers from exporting to Iran, and a limp economy, Iran Khodro says sales rose 18 percent in 2010 and plans a 13 pe
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TEHRAN, Iran — Last week, a group of lawmakers from the Iranian parliament’s Industries and Mines Commission introduced a motion to further raise import duties on passenger cars. The underlying assumption is that Iran’s 48-year-old auto industry is at risk amid the grassroots campaign on social media to discourage purchases of domestically made “low-quality” cars.

Among other efforts to shore up the troubled Iranian auto industry is a recent letter by the head of Iran’s Customs Administration that has been widely circulated in local media. In his letter to the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade, Masoud Karbasian calls for an increase of up to 150% in car import duties “to prevent imports of luxury vehicles and achieve the revenue target from car imports for this fiscal year.”

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