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Country Forecast Iran November 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Iran November 2017 Updater

  • November 2017
  • ID: 358980
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the moderately reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, to continue with gradual economic liberalisation and social reform in his second presidential term, which he secured in the election on May 19th. However, political disagreements over political and economic reform will intensify as the reintegration of Iran into the global community prompts a backlash by hardliners. Mr Rouhani will therefore continue to face criticism from opponents. The issue of choosing a successor to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will also loom larger in 2018-22.
  • The more confrontational approach of the US administration will cause a sharp deterioration in bilateral ties with Iran, although we still do not expect the US to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. With the EU, China and others likely to remain committed to the JCPOA, and the government keen to maximise inflows of inward investment, we expect Iran to continue to adhere to the agreement's conditions.
  • Buttressed by a relatively supportive parliament, Mr Rouhani will seek to step up economic reform. This will include easing foreign investment laws, introducing revised contracts for international oil firms and seeking to draw the bonyads (charities with extensive business interests) and firms connected to the Revolutionary Guards into the tax system. However, progress will be halting in the face of resistance by vested interests close to the supreme leader.
  • The public finances will be supported by the easing of sanctions and a recovery in oil export volumes. With the government keen to ensure a post-sanctions windfall, spending on infrastructure will be ramped up, leading to a widening of the fiscal deficit in 2017/18-22/23.
  • We expect growth to average 5.7% a year in fiscal years 2017/18-2022/23 (March 21st-March 20th), helped by the lifting of sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors. The current-account position will be supported by rising oil exports, but the surplus will narrow steadily as imports surge and non-merchandise outflows (especially profit repatriation) increase.
  • Inflation will rise to an average of 11.4% in 2018, as the unification of the dual exchange rate (scheduled for early 2018) temporarily pushes up import costs. Nevertheless, with the JCPOA boosting confidence in the rial and the rate of depreciation slowing from 2019, we expect consumer price growth to stabilise at around 10.1% in 2019-22.

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