“The key achievement was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) --the official name for the nuclear deal--. Nuclear-related sanctions were lifted. It triggered a chain of positive outcomes for Iran’s economy”.
When Rouhani took office in 2013, Iran was in an unstable economic situation. Unemployment was high, inflation rampant and the economy stagnant. During the past four years, Rouhani and his cabinet have awakened Iran’s dormant economy wounded by policies under President Ahmadinejad. The key achievement was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) –the official name for the nuclear deal. Nuclear-related sanctions were lifted. It triggered a chain of positive outcomes for Iran’s economy. $22 billion of Central Bank of Iran’s frozen assets has been freed, the country has been reconnected to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), temporarily removed from the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) black list, and can now resume ties with the global banking and financial network. As a result, Iran has been inundated with visiting foreign trade delegations. Foreigners have shown interest in investments and sharing their technology know-how. Agreements were signed to attract foreign investment in infrastructure to revamp road, rail, and air transport systems. $12 billion of foreign investment was absorbed in the past year (March 2016-17). Foreign revenues increased via boosting oil and gas outputs. Oil exports have doubled. Iran had positive balance of trade in the last year (between March 2015 and March 2016). It was the country’s first-ever positive trade balance since 1979. Inflation skyrocketed to above 40% at the end of Ahmadinejad’s second term, and dropped to a single-digit for the first time in three decades (9% in the past year). Economic growth soared from minus 5.8% in 2013 to 7.2% in the first nine months of the past year. Critics say Rouhani has failed to improve living standards, emphasizing that the JCPOA did not work as expected. The unemployment rate has increased from 10.5% to 12% in his tenure. In fact, Rouhani’s mission is not accomplished yet. There is a long way for economy to go.