News / Economy

Iranians Hope for Improved Economy in 2014

For Many Iranians, High Hopes for Improved Economic Prospects in 2014i
X
December 19, 2013 5:56 PM
While Iran's nuclear program, presidential elections and talks with the West got most of the attention in 2013, the issue that hits closest to home for most Iranians is the economy, which has been battered by international sanctions. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
VIDEO: Some analysts say growing anger over rising inflation, high unemployment paved way for Iran's new diplomatic opening to the West. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
While Iran's nuclear program, presidential elections and new talks with the West got most of the attention this past year, the issue that hits closest to home for most Iranians is the economy, which has been battered by international sanctions. Many analysts say it was the growing anger over rising inflation and high unemployment that paved the way for Iran's new diplomatic opening to the West and the world.
 
Back in March 2013, Iranian consumers were furious over nut prices that had jumped ten-fold.
 
"It is the first time in thirty years that we haven't put nuts and pistachios on our Haft-Seen," said Tehran resident Hamid Pourmand. "I can say we boycotted it or simply didn't buy to protest the growing hike in nuts prices."
 
It was the latest in a series of economic blows to a nation that has seen inflation rise 40 percent over the previous year, with unemployment hitting more than 12 percent. For young people, the jobless rate was almost twice as high.
 
As the June presidential election approached, Iranians didn't forget, demanding that the country's next president find a way to circumvent or resolve the sanctions. Many took to the streets to celebrate when reformist-backed candidate Hassan Rouhani won on promises to revive an economy strangled by round after a round of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.  
 
As Iran's new leadership prepared for talks in October in Geneva with Western powers on its nuclear program, sinking oil exports caused by the sanctions were costing Tehran an estimated $100 million a day. By late November, a breakthrough was made during talks in Geneva, in which a tentative deal between Iran and world powers over the country's nuclear activities promised up to $7 billion in sanctions relief.
 
For normal Iranian like Tehran jewerly shop owner Ebrahimi, the deal gave rise to a newfound optimism.
 
"Thank God the deal that was made between them was to the benefit of the Iranian people," he said. "All Iranians dreamed of this. They are very happy."
 
But some Iranians remained skeptical. One Tehran resident who spoke with VOA Persian's Straight Talk via Skype, who went by the name Mana, expressed only guarded optimism.
 
"I hope people's daily lives get better, especially people around us and workers who have bad conditions in factories," he said. "Sanctions shut down many factories in Iran. I work with several factories and we see they laid off many workers."
 
According to Matthew Levitt, a scholar with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there is good reason for caution.
 
"This will get Iran over the next six months, perhaps. But just as likely it's going to create a crisis of rising expectations among Iranians who expect that a deal means huge relief and the removal of sanctions."
 
As the U.S. Treasury Department's David Cohen warns, unless Iran finalizes a deal, the economic pain will continue.
 
"Foreign banks and businesses still face a choice," Cohen said. "They can do business with Iran or they can do business with the U.S. — just not both."
 
Which means the fate of the Iranian economy likely hinges on how the Geneva accord plays out.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.