Iran plots path from sanctions to action
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Iran plots path from sanctions to action

The country’s return to the fold of international finance is likely to be as long and winding as the road to the lifting of sanctions. But that hasn’t stopped forward-thinkers in Tehran’s financial elite plotting a vision for their banks and financial markets. Can it possibly live up to its billing in some quarters as ‘the most exciting investment in the world’?

Ramin Rabii, Turquoise600

Ramin Rabii, Turquoise

Don’t be fooled by the hype. The expected removal of sanctions from Iran – probably between the end of this year and Easter 2016 – will not lead to an immediate flood of investment and a warm welcome back into the fold of international finance. Those things will happen. But they will take years rather than months.

The mood in Tehran is cautiously optimistic. After years under sanctions, there is a palpable fear that something could still go wrong to derail sanctions relief – most obviously a vote against it in the US Congress so overwhelming that president Obama can’t veto it – but nevertheless, people are planning ahead for brighter times. And as they plan, financiers realize that a great many further challenges await, some of them real, some a function of misperception or fear.

“If developments go according to expectations, then the impact will be enormous,” says Ahmad Azizi, senior adviser to the governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran. “But I very much doubt we will see things along those lines. Although the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action struck for sanctions relief is a tremendous development, it can’t be translated overnight into contracts, mechanisms, processes and procedures for the infrastructure of the financial system to be available for general trade and investment in the normal way.”

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