January 1, 2018


Iranians still waiting for dramatic economic change (Megan O'Toole, 30 Apr 2017, Al Jazeera)

The Grand Bazaar in Iran's capital bustles with shoppers strolling past stacks of gold brocade pillowcases, rows of gleaming coffeepots and bins filled with red barberries.

The din of afternoon chatter echoes off the bazaar's high ceilings. But inside Mohsin Daliri's small shop, only one or two customers linger to inspect his piles of lush Persian carpets; they eventually leave without a purchase.

Daliri tells Al Jazeera that despite expectations of a swift economic recovery after Iran's landmark 2015 nuclear deal, many businesses are continuing to suffer.

"There have been no tangible changes in the market. There was hope upon hope that things would get better, but in reality, it stayed the same. My business is suffering from stagnation. There is no positive impulse in the market," he says, noting that despite the lifting of sanctions, some Western countries were still not importing his wares.

"After Nowruz [the Iranian new year], business was really bad. Many merchants haven't reopened their stores and have even laid off staff ... People believe the nuclear deal was fake," Daliri adds. "All we got were three aeroplanes and nothing else. Banking transactions, the use of credit cards - none of this was fixed, and this is very important for moving the market forward."

The implementation of the nuclear deal in early 2016 was hailed by President Hassan Rouhani as a turning point for Iran's economy. "The nuclear deal is an opportunity that we should use to develop the country, improve the welfare of the nation, and create stability and security in the region," Rouhani said at the time, citing a "golden page" in the country's history.

Indeed, there have been signs of improvement: According to a February report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the lifting of sanctions and consequent rebound in oil exports spurred growth in Iran, with expectations that it would reach 4.5 percent over the medium term. However, "banking system weaknesses, structural bottlenecks, and hesitation by foreign banks to re-establish financial links have held back expansion of non-oil activity", the IMF noted.

And with unemployment in the country of 80 million people surpassing 12 percent last year, many average Iranians feel they have not personally benefitted from the nuclear deal.

Posted by at January 1, 2018 12:27 PM