July 8, 2015


Post-sanctions Iran 'could be the best emerging market for years to come' (Ian Black, 6 July 2015, The Guardian)

 "We are like a pilot on the runway ready to take off," a bullish Mansour Moazami told the Wall Street Journal. "This is how the whole country is right now."

Oil matters. But Iran's economy is far more diverse than that of Saudi Arabia, its great rival in the region. It is the world's largest exporter of cement, as well as pistachios, saffron and caviar. Shipping is another big earner. State-owned Iran Shipping Lines has been badly hit by sanctions and stands to benefit significantly when they go, analysts say.

The single most urgent change business wants is the end to the ban on bank transfers under the international Swift system. "That has been the biggest blow," said Rouzbeh Pirouz, chairman of Turquoise Partners. "But it's not just that. Iranian companies have had difficulty trading and participating in global markets." Yet interest from European countries has grown "exponentially" since the interim nuclear agreement was signed in Lausanne in April. Iran's financial sector, food and beauty products are of special interest, he added. And French investors are looking closely at investment in hotels in the expectation of a leap forward in tourism. [...]

If there is an agreement, there will be plenty of business opportunities, but no bonanza for foreigners. "We are ready to use the potential of foreign investment," said banker Majid Zamani. "But this is not Russia in the 1990s. Some people make it sound like a gold rush. There won't be one because there is already a free market and free trade here. For people who want to add value Iran is the place to be. It could be the best emerging market for years to come."

What is true for a growing giant like Digikala is true for traders in Tehran's legendary and famously conservative bazaar. "I am optimistic about the future," beamed Mostafa, surveying his little stationery shop in one of the labyrinth of alleys around the Masjid Shah (Shah mosque - still referred to thus despite having being renamed Masjid Khomeini long ago.) "If sanctions end people will be in a better mood and buy more. And if the dollar is reasonably stable we can buy the paper we import from Indonesia at a decent price."

On all sides there is a recognition of the clear link between resolving the nuclear issue and economic prosperity. "In business we talk about win-win," quipped Saeed Rahmani, founder of Sarava Pars venture capital and chairman of the Digikala board. "Countries are no different."

Posted by at July 8, 2015 12:40 PM

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