Legal Business

The Iran debate – The long, long game

Hopes that Iran’s economy is opening up to foreign business have been raised and dashed in recent years. Will this year’s election change the dynamic?

On 19 May, Iran went to the polls for what many believed would be a tightly-fought election. By the next morning it was clear that the analysts’ predictions had been wide of the mark. Incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, leader of the Moderation and Development Party, secured a landslide victory over his nearest rival, Ebrahim Raisi, chair of the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces. Shortly after the results were announced, Rouhani appeared on state television to say the election had shown Iran was committed to improving relations with the rest of the world. To investors and businesses that have been eyeing the country for years, it was a positive sign, but hopes of an open market have been dashed before. Sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme were lifted in early 2016, but business has so far been frustrated in the ongoing difficulties they face in the market.