President Hassan Rouhani and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh at the opening of Phase Two of the Persian Gulf Star Refinery, Bandar Abbas, Iran, June 28, 2018
Seeking hard currency amid comprehensive US sanctions and falling oil exports, Iran is offering five-year residency to investors who bring in large sums of money.
The Rouhani Government approved the measure Sunday for any person making an investment of more than 250,000 euros ($283,300) or the equivalent in other foreign currencies.
The offer, made after a Cabinet meeting, includes bank deposits and investments in bonds or housing projects as well as manufacturing.
The statement did not say if residencies could be extended with further investment.
Iran’s Economy Minister Farhad Dejpassand claimed last week that foreign direct investment had more than doubled since early 2018 to reach a rate of $3.5 billion per year.
But Dejpassand’s statement appears to have been deceptive. The UN Conference on Trade and Developments has reported that Iran was already at $3.4 billion of foreign investment in 2018 — a fall of 30% from 2017.
US comprehensive sanctions, imposed in November after the American withdrawal in May from the 2015 nuclear deal, have added to Iran’s economic troubles. Official oil exports are down 60% — from 2.5 million barrels per day to 1 million bpd — since April 2018. Production is sagging, unemployment is rising, and the currency is down 65% from its already historically-low level of January 2018.
The Government also announced Sunday that it is allowing visa-free travels for Chinese national, hoping that the arrival of about 2 million tourists will boost foreign currency revenues.