BEIRUT

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Iran ready for post-sanction investments

Iran is in discussions with European and Asian businesses about potential investment in the country once sanctions are lifted, central bank governor Valiollah Seif said.

Iran, whose economy has been crippled by penalties imposed by the West over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, has maintained a dialog with investors in countries it did business with in the past and is confident it could attract investment in the automobile, steel and heavy machinery industries, Seif said.

“France, Germany and Italy have had extensive economic relationships with Iran, and they have kept that relationship,” Seif said in an April 12 interview in Washington during the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings. “They are in contact and in discussion on projects, and we expect that once sanctions are lifted, they are waiting to make investment in all different areas.”

Iran and world powers struck an initial accord in November that broke a decadelong diplomatic stalemate, setting limits on the country’s nuclear program in exchange for about $7 billion in relief from sanctions over six months. A French delegation of more than 100 business representatives met with top Iranian trade officials in February in Tehran to explore opportunities.

“When sanctions are lifted, we think that there will be a lot of investment opportunities because of Iranian economic potential,” Seif said, though he added China had taken over some of Iran’s market share.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in August, is under pressure to find relief for the country from the sanctions, which had caused sharp reductions in oil output and the value of the currency.

The country’s economy will stop contracting this Iranian year, which started last month, and gross domestic product is expected to increase 3 percent the following year, Seif said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 15, 2014, on page 5.

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