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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8957
JPY
USD
120.93
GBP
USD
0.6393
CAD
USD
1.2199
INR
USD
63.470

Rates may not be current.