“Iran is the last, large, untapped emerging market in the world.” These were the words of Ramin Rabii, a chief executive of the top foreign investment company in Iran, following The 1st Europe-Iran Forum. At this forum hundreds of international investors met with Iranian business leaders, and also heard from speakers such as the United Kingdom’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw.
The country has seen many changes over the past year and a half. The changes began with the election of new president, Hassan Rouhani, whose regime has been able to cut the inflation rate by 30%. Sanctions against the country have also been temporarily eased, and the possibility of an agreement to permanently remove some of these sanctions looms in the near future
Investors are drawn to Iran because of the vast quantity of natural resources in the country. Iran holds 9% of the world's oil reserves and is the second largest OPEC oil producer. Iran also has the second largest reserve of natural gas in the world, second only to Russia. A permanent lifting of the current sanctions would open up trade with Iran to many more countries around the globe, including Europe and the United States. Iran is also relatively untapped by foreign investors. Less than 0.5% of the Tehran Stock Exchange is owned by foreigners, which is a sign that there is potential for a lot of growth.
While there are hundreds of interested investors with money, there will be no investment until a verdict on the sanctions is reached. The sanctions were only temporarily lifted as an incentive during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and will go back into place unless a more permanent deal is reached by November 24th. The future of the Iranian economy is dependent on these talks. If an agreement were to be reached, foreign money would pour into the Iranian economy and growth would soar. On the flip side, if no agreement was made, and the sanctions were put back in place, the Iranian economy would be thrust back into a recession similar to the one it recently experienced, with inflation rates exceeding 45%.