Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is on a drive to attract foreign investment, which he believes is essential for economic health and job creation in a country where more than one in four young people are unemployed. Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce is going all out to woo managers of foreign sovereign wealth funds and major corporations to prop-up a failed economy; one that has not only been decimated by sanctions but also by the fact that untold billions are diverted away from state coffers to weapons purchases and to keep the ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard fat cats happy.
But with terrorism-related US sanctions on Iran as well as a new round of sanctions in response to its illegal testing of ballistic missiles, would-be investors and banks remain cautiously hesitant and they are right to be so.
The investment climate remains unfavourable; it is over-regulated, suffocated by red tape and company ownership is anything but transparent in Iran, where the Supreme Leader and his Revolutionary Guard Corps control massive industrial and business empires. Corruption is rife through every sector of society. Iran ranked the 131st of 170 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 compiled by Transparency International – a global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption.
Investing in Iran is not only risky and fraught with obstacles, in my view, pumping large sums of money into a terrorist-sponsoring state with an abysmal #humanrights record is nothing short of unethical. I have always taken the view that trade with Iran serves its murky goals and should be discouraged no matter the financial rewards.
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