Facing a conservative-hardline effort to remove him in elections on May 19, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced new economic projects on Sunday.
Rouhani’s leading opponents, cleric Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Qaddafi, are likely to focus on Iran’s economic record and claim that the Government has not delivered promised economic recovery since it took office in 2013. The President will counter that, assisted by the July 2015 nuclear deal, he has lowered inflation from 45% to less than 9%; that production and investment are being renewed; and that the Government has rebalanced the economy to boost non-oil imports and spur key infrastructure projects.
Opening some of those projects in Qazvin in northern Iran, Rouhani said, “Fulfilling promises is very important.” His team also highlighted the declaration on Saturday of an initiative to link Iran’s rail system to Georgia, amid a visit by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to Tehran.
Zarif: Removing Obstacles to Europe Links
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also highlighted the important of economic ties on Saturday, declaring that Iran is trying to remove financial and banking obstacles restricting trade and investment with Europe.
Zarif made the remarks in a meeting with the head of a Portuguese delegation, Secretary of State for Internationalization Jorge Costa Oliveira.
The Rouhani Government had hoped for a significant boost in economic activity with Europe after implementation of the July 2015 nuclear agreement. Levels of trade have recovered to those of 2012, before the impact of sweeping US and European sanctions; however, ongoing US restrictions have held back cautious European companies from large investment projects in the Islamic Republic. Sectors affected include energy and transport, with Iran unable to finance almost all of the 180 passenger planes which it has purchased from France’s Airbus and Boeing.