• Lifting of sanctions will clear the way for Iran to be the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2016
  • It will also allow Iran to resume oil exports to the EU and other countries that imposed oil import embargoes on Tehran

Sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, the UN and the EU, which have slashed the country’s GDP by at least 30 per cent and have cut the value of the Iranian rial against the dollar by two-thirds since 2011, could be lifted before the end of 2015, according to experts following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed in July.

This will clear the way for Iran to be the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2016.

The experts say the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) report setting out its final assessment of the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, due to be submitted to the IAEA board by 15 December, could be approved in a single board meeting. This will allow Implementation Day (I-Day), when all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the US, the UN and the EU are to be lifted, to take place almost immediately.

“We make no forecasts about when I-Day may occur, but after the IAEA board has approved the report, there are no further conditions that need to be met,” says an IAEA official, who asked not to be identified.

The JCPOA, agreed between Iran and the US, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany on 14 July, says I-Day “will occur upon the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures [required by the plan of action]”. The JCPOA says the EU, the UN and the US will terminate, suspend and cease the application of all nuclear-related sanctions on the same day.

These include the embargo on EU imports of oil and action to isolate Iran’s economy from the global trade and financial system, including the disconnection of the Islamic Republic from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) global communications system.

I-Day will allow Iran to resume oil exports to the EU and other countries that imposed oil import embargoes on Tehran. The reconnection with SWIFT will restore the capacity of the Iranian government, banks, corporations and individuals to transfer money to and from the Islamic Republic. International banks will also be able to do business with Iran.

The oil embargo, financial sanctions and other restrictions have dealt a heavy blow to the Iranian economy generally and to Iranian businesses in particular.  Businesses exporting goods and services have found it almost impossible to secure foreign exchange trade finance and importers have been obliged to pay in cash often in full and in advance.

MEED’s Iran Insight Report published this month says Iran will probably be the world’s fastest growing economy in 2016 if sanctions are lifted. This will be due to the swift restoration of Iran’s oil exports to pre-2012 levels and a rebound in non-oil manufacturing output. They caution, however, that it will take years for the economy to recover fully from sanctions and that major reforms, including a restructuring of the banking system, will be required if Iran is to achieve its full potential.

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