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President Rouhani says Iranian nation winner of polls

TEHRAN, May 20, YJC - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has secured a second term, praised the people’s massive presence in the 12th presidential election held on Friday and said they are the true winner of the polls.

President Rouhani says Iranian nation winner of polls

TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - "You, the great Iranian nation, are the winner of the election,” Rouhani said on his Twitter account in his first comment after winning the vote on Saturday.

"I humbly bow before you,” he said in his tweet, adding that he will remain faithful to his promises given to the Iranian nation.

Rouhani won Friday’s presidential election by securing an absolute majority of the votes.

With the votes from 99.7% of ballot boxes in the nationwide presidential election counted, Rouhani emerged victorious and secured a second term by winning 57 percent of the votes, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced at a press conference on Saturday.

Rouhani garnered 23,549,616 votes from a total of 41,220,131 ballots that were cast in the presidential election on Friday, he added.

The runner-up, Ebrahim Raisi, secured 38.5% of the votes with 15,786,449 ballots, Rahmani Fazli noted, saying the two other candidates, Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemitaba, won 478,215 and 219,450 votes, respectively.

More than 56,400,000 Iranian people were eligible to vote. Participation of above 41 million voters translates into a turnout of 73 percent, Tasnim reported.

Iranian expatriates in 103 countries cast their ballots simultaneous with the big turnout at home.

During the previous presidential election in June 2013, Rouhani had emerged victorious by winning 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million votes. He had won more than three times as many votes as his closest challenger.

South Azadegan daily crude output to hit 160k bpd

South Azadegan daily crude output to hit 160k bpd - Mehr News Agency میادین غرب کارون TEHRAN, May 21 (MNA) – An oil official said once production volume at South Azadegan reaches 160 thousand barrels per day (bpd), West Karun joint fields will bring a revenue of 2.5 million dollars.

Majid Najarian, deputy project director for development of South Azadegan oilfield, said 565 million dollars were invested over three years to increase output of North Azadegan to 35 thousand barrels per day while, for the South Azadegan case, crude production soared to 40 thousand bpd in less than five months and by spending one fifth of the designated budget.

Over the past months, about 19 new wells have been drilled in the joint field, said the official, nearly a quarter of the yielded oil is directed to the northern cluster while the remaining thirty thousand barrels are transferred to refineries through a 32-inche pipeline.

Najarian said all measures, including pipeline installation, well drilling and establishment of wellhead equipment, are successfully accomplished adding “presently, a three-hour shut down of the factory is required its new control program to come on stream.”

He emphasized that output of South Azadegan will climb to 160 thousand barrels by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (began March 21) asserting “a total of 12 more wells are scheduled to be drilled in the coming two or three months in a bid to lift production level by 25 thousand barrels.”

“Also in the southern part of the field, 13 wells will come on stream yielding 28 thousand barrels per day,” he continued.

The official said a skid mount project will also add 50 thousand barrels to South Azadegan’s daily crude production.

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Talks between EAEU, Iran on free trade zone may end by Oct.

Talks between EAEU, Iran on free trade zone may end by Oct. - Mehr News Agency Russia MOSCOW, May 20 (MNA) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya said that negotiations between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran on a temporary free trade zone agreement could be finished by the next EAEU summit.

The negotiations between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran on a temporary free trade zone agreement could be finished by the next EAEU summit, scheduled for October 11, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya told Sputnik on Saturday.

"The next meeting of the EAEU at the high level is scheduled for October 11. We are hoping that by that time, we will already be close to finishing the talks and will start the procedure of signing the agreement on a temporary free trade zone between the EAEU and Iran," Nebenzya said.

SPUTNIK/MNA

Italy first EU trade partner of Iran

Italy first EU trade partner of Iran - Mehr News Agency iran italy TEHRAN, May 20 (MNA) – Eurostat has announced that, in the first quarter of 2017, Italy was the first trade partner of Iran among members of the European Union (EU).

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, announced that Iran and Italy exchanged products worth 1.2 billion euros in the first season of 2017 with 800 million euros pertaining to Iran's exports to Italy and 400 million euros to its imports from the European country.

As such, Italy is marked as the first trade partner of Iran ahead of France and Germany who have occupied second and third positions.

Over the past two years, volume of Iran's trade with the EU member states has increased significantly especially as regards exchanges with Italy which have catapulted by 200 per cent during the same period.

Tehran and Rome’s positive trade balance had always in favor of Italy in the past 10 years while the figure turned positive in favor of Iran in the first quarter of the present year.

In 2015, Iran-Italy trade volume stood at 1.7 billion euros of which 500 million euros belonged to Iran’s export to the European side while the rest pertained to its imports.

Iran remains as an invaluable opportunity for the European industries who are after new markets enthusiastically.

Until last year, Italy fell behind Germany as Iran's trade partner in Europe. Volume of trade between Iran and Italy has set the record high figure of seven billion dollars in 2011 while it dropped to 1.2 billion euros in 2013 once international sanctions were imposed against the Iranian economy.

Nevertheless, the trade volume between Tehran and Rome have taken up an upward trend again as evidenced by the figure for 2015 which surpassed 1.6 billion euros.

Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union situated in Luxembourg. Its mission is to provide high quality statistics for Europe.

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Iran, Germany ink railway MoU

Iran, Germany ink railway MoU - Mehr News Agency راه آهن همدان TEHRAN, May 20 (MNA) – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for technical and financial cooperation has been signed between the Bonyad Eastern railway company (Bonrail) and German State Railway.

The cooperation agreement was sealed on the closing day of the 5th International Exhibition of Rail Transportation and Related Industries, Equipment dubbed as RailExpo which was held on May 15-18 in Tehran International Permanent Fairground.

On the sidelines of the MoU-signing ceremony, Alireza Sheikh Taheri, Managing Director of Bonyad Eastern railway company, said “previously, another contract had been signed with Deutsche Bahn, Germany's state-owned railway, aimed at improving quality of railway services and in view of their satisfaction with the deal, the Germans made the proposal for the memorandum of technical and financial cooperation in rail sector, which was inked today.”

As per the agreement, Germany's state-owned railway will provide Bonrail with consultations on technical, financial and infrastructure areas and the Iranian firm will take advantage of cooperation with Deutsche Bahn railway company.

Bonyad Eastern Railway Co. (PJS), was registered in 1985. As a subsidiary of Bonyad Mostazafan Organization and first Iranian private passenger train company, it has started its activities with 10 passenger coaches and has continued in the field of passenger transportation for two decades. Nowadays, the company, under the Bonrail brand, has a rolling stock consisting of 128 passenger coaches in many routes and offers catering services during the trip for passengers.

Hosted by the Iranian capital of Tehran, the fifth Iran RailExpo marked the world's second largest rail exhibition during which 160 local and 130 foreign companies from 16 countries showcased their latest achievements and products.

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FAO Warns about famine in Yemen, 3 African countries

FAO Warns about famine in Yemen, 3 African countries - Mehr News Agency Famine TEHRAN, May. 19 (MNA) – FAO and other UN agencies have warned that Famine in Yemen, Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan is close to generate humanitarian disaster.

Famine has been declared in some counties of South Sudan, and the number of people close to sliding from emergency to disaster is perilously high in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, FAO and other UN agencies warned.

According to a press release published by the Representation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Iran, Governments, civic groups and businesses need to rally support for both immediate relief to people in countries at risk of famine and longer-term initiatives that will allow them to recover and restore their livelihoods, Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), said.

Some 30 million people in the four countries are uncertain where their next meal will come from or are reliant on humanitarian assistance.

"I urge you to take action now to relieve the impending suffering and to prevent further damage to livelihoods," Ambassador Gornass wrote in a letter to CFS Members and stakeholders, as well as the international community at large, to step up their response to the crises in the four countries.

CFS is an intergovernmental body aimed at achieving a world free of hunger. Its inclusive platform is structured to allow participants from civil society, the private sector and other non-state actors, especially the food insecure, to have a voice in discussions.

The risk of famine in all four countries is mostly induced by conflict, which has disrupted food production, blocked aid and commodities from accessing vulnerable communities and driven food prices beyond what people can afford.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the primary mechanism for the coordination of humanitarian assistance, emergency and relief responses, can meet immediate needs if adequately funded, Ambassador Gornass wrote, reiterating calls made by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

YNG/PR

UN report shows economic fall in poor regions

UN report shows economic fall in poor regions - Mehr News Agency اقتصاد جهانی TEHRAN, May. 19 (MNA) – The United Nations released a report titled World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2017 which shows growth in world economy with poor prospect for underdeveloped economies.

Growth in the global economy has picked up in the last six months in line with expectations, but in many regions, growth remains below the levels needed for rapid progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2017 report, launched today at UN Headquarters.

The report identifies a tentative recovery in world industrial production, along with reviving global trade, driven primarily by rising import demand from East Asia. World gross product is expected to expand by 2.7 per cent in 2017 and 2.9 per cent in 2018, unchanged from UN forecasts released in January this year. This marks a notable acceleration compared to just 2.3 per cent in 2016.

In a statement on the report, Mr. Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, underscored the “need to reinvigorate global commitments to international policy coordination to achieve a balanced and sustained revival of global growth, ensuring that no regions are left behind.” 

According to the report, underpinning global economic recovery is firmer growth in many developed economies and economies in transition, with East and South Asia remaining the world’s most dynamic regions. However, economic recovery in South America is emerging more slowly than anticipated, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is declining or stagnant in several parts of Africa. 

YNG/PR

Over third of May, 16% growth in trading value in IME

Tehran (ISNA) - During weekdays ending up to May 18, with 465,135 MT of commodities worth over 288 million USD were traded in Iran Mercantile Exchange, 15% growth in trading volume and 16% growth in trading value were registered.

According to the report from IME International Affairs and PR, last week, on the domestic and export metal and mineral trading floor of IME, 220,027 MT of various products worth close to 146 million USD were traded.

On this trading floor, 212,791 MT of steel products, 5,920 MT of copper,1,120 MT of aluminum, 140 MT of molybdenum concentrates, 6 MT of precious metal concentrates as well as 50 MT of zinc were traded.

The report declared that on domestic and export oil and petrochemical trading floors of IME, 221,925 MT of different commodities with the total value of 128 million USD were traded.

On this trading floor, more than 96,194 MT of bitumen, 63,157 MT of polymer products, 23,460 MT of VB feed stock as well as 11,000 MT of lube-cut oil, 21,356 MT of chemical products, 4,320 MT of sulfur, 1,092 MT of insulation, 1,357 MT of base oil and slack wax oil and 20 MT of argon were traded.

Moreover, on the agricultural trading floor of IME, 22,147 MT of various commodities worth over 12.5 million USD were traded. On this trading floor, 9,500 MT of wheat, 10,600MT of sugar, 1,500 MT of crude vegetable oil and 547 MT of maize were traded by customers.

It is worth noting that during the last week the side market of IME witnessed trading of 1,035MT of potash (potassium chloride), coconut powder as well asphosphate concentrate.

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Drinking water to be supplied to 1200-1600 villages by Mar. 2018

TEHRAN- In line with completing water supplying projects in the country, Iran’s Energy Ministry plans to supply drinking water to 1200-1600 new villages by the end of current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2018), Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.

Iran has allocated over $639 million to building modern water distribution networks and implementing water projects in the country’s rural areas by the end of this calendar year.

MA/MG
 

ICCIMA to host French agro delegation today

TEHRAN- A French agricultural delegation will discuss agriculture, foodstuff, and poultry cooperation with Iranian entrepreneurs at the place of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) today, IRNA reported.

The members of the visiting delegation are active in manufacturing machineries, research, production of fisheries, milk and meat, quality testing, technology development and etc. 

HJ/MA

Germany, Netherlands, Britain top investment making seekers in petchem sector

TEHRAN- Germany, the Netherlands and Britain stand on the top of the list of countries seeking investment making in Iran’s petrochemical sector in the post-sanctions era, IRNA reported on Saturday quoting Hossein Alimorad, director for investment making in National Petrochemical Company (NPC).

After the implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), foreign companies mainly from Europe and Japan are showing more and more interest for cooperation with Iranian petrochemical sector and as they consider this sector reliable when it comes to the return on investment (ROI), they even ignore the extant hurdles regarding banking transactions, the official underlined.

Iran is among the few countries which have all kinds of petrochemical feedstock, according to NPC Managing Director Marziyeh Shahdaie.
After the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, NPC has received high willingness from European companies for cooperation with Iran in the petrochemical sector both in financing and licensing, Farnaz Alavi, the NPC director for planning and development, announced last December.
Given the positive environment created after the lifting of sanctions against Iran, NPC has put product diversification and market expansion on its agenda, Alavi told the Tehran Times in an e-mailed interview in early April.

“These two objectives are some of the key policies of NPC in post-sanctions time. In this regard, petrochemical companies are seeking to export their diversified products to new target countries in a way that simultaneous with reviving their lost markets, they can find new markets,” the official stated.

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First VP announces prioritized economic programs

TEHRAN- Iran’s First Vice-President Es’haq Jahangiri has tasked the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs with implementing 14 prioritized programs by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2018).

Improving the country’s business environment index by 10 steps, implementing the value added tax law, developing a comprehensive taxation plan, enhancing the country’s competitiveness rank, empowering the domestic insurance industry, and creating an intelligent system to fight money laundering are some of the projects, Mehr news agency reported.

In January 2017, Jahangiri said that creating an economic opening won’t be viable unless resistance economy guidelines are implemented by all responsible bodies. 

“If resistance economy policies are implemented by all, the country’s economy has the potential to flourish and enhance living conditions of people,” Jahangiri said, “Advancing resistance economy is an important task that demands the participation of all governmental, official, and civil organizations.” 

The term “resistance economy” was used for the first time in 2013 by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to highlight the importance of domestic production as a tool to reduce dependence on foreign resources.

Also, it brings to the fore the need to support the Iranian private sector and workforce.

HJ/MA
 

Italy top EU trade partner of Iran in 2017 Q1

TEHRAN- Italy was the first trade partner of Iran among the European Union member states, during the first three months of 2017, European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat announced.

According to Eurostat, the volume of trade between Iran and Italy in the said period hit €1.2 billion, with €800 million pertaining to Iran's exports to Italy and €400 million to its imports from the country.

Italy was the first trade partner of Iran while France and Germany came as the second and third.

HJ/MA

Turkey-Iran business meeting held in Ankara

TEHRAN – An Iran-Turkey investment, trade and cooperation opportunities meeting was held by Ankara Chamber of Commerce in the Turkish city on Wednesday.

According to IRNA, aiming for development of bilateral trade relations, Ankara Chamber of Commerce held the meeting in collaboration with Turkey's Ministry of Economy, the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Commission, the Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (known as MUSIAD) and the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Turkey.

EF/MA

Over $639m allocated to water projects in rural areas

TEHRAN – Iran has allocated over $639 million to building modern water distribution networks and implementing water projects in the country’s rural areas by the end of current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2018), IRNA reported on Friday.

According to Iran’s National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company Managing Director and Chairman of the Board Hamidreza Janbaz over 11 trillion rials (about $339 million) of the mentioned fund has been supplied from the country’s annual budget and the rest comes from the National Development Fund.

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OPEC meeting: another winning chance for Iran

As one of the key players in the world’s political and economic turnovers, oil market has been witnessing lots of ups and downs in recent years.

In late-2015, oil prices fell to more than half from highs of above $100 a barrel in 2014 as rising production from U.S. shale oil combined with other global oversupplies and OPEC output pushed the prices down drastically.

Low oil prices could impose big problems to the global economy. Markets around the world rely heavily on emerging economies - like Saudi Arabia and Russia - which are mostly rich in oil and plunging oil prices could result in shrinkage or slow economic growth in such countries.

To rebalance the market and to help the prices surge again, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to cut the oil production for the first time in eight years.

After holding several meetings and going through hours of discussion and negotiation, the cartel joined by a group of non-OPEC nations - including Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Oman - agreed to cut production by about 1.2 million barrels per day, or about 4.5 percent of its production, to 32.5 million barrels per day in November 2016.

Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia played crucial roles in reaching the agreement. Iran was seen to be one of the most significant players. Reuters published a report at the time saying that a phone call between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, just before the OPEC meeting, had an important part in helping to reach the deal on cutting oil output.

Some even believed that Iran was the sole winner of OPEC deal. “Iran is now able to sell as much oil as it wants and to any country it deems appropriate,”…”Iran was not only exempt from OPEC’s cuts but was also allowed to ramp up production to 3.797 million barrels per day,” Oilprice reported in December 2016.

Although OPEC efforts to rebalance the market through production cuts pushed oil prices above $50, but that made high-cost U.S. shale more profitable, leading to the recovery in American output being a threat to OPEC's bid in balancing an oversupplied market.

The U.S. shale drillers, which have built a backlog of partially completed wells in anticipation of a price recovery switched on their stand-by rigs. That, added by recovery in exempted countries like Nigeria and Libya led the oil market to tremble again, sending warning signals to the OPEC members especially Saud Arabia who is facing a huge budget deficit and is close to their first international bond issue.

Now five months after the implementation of the deal in January 2017, the number of U.S. oil rigs is dramatically increased and producers outside OPEC are further ramping up production despite the cuts being made by some nations. What market analysts referred to as “the biggest oil market risk for 2017” now is seemed to be happening.

Facing the threat of increasing oil production and the resurgent U.S. shale industry that have weighed on prices, OPEC and its allies declare “war” against U.S. shale, leaning toward an agreement on extending the deal to further limit output.

The decision is to be finalized during a meeting which is to be held in Vienna on May 25. The members are going to discuss whether to extend output cuts agreed in December last year between OPEC and 11 non-member countries, including Russia.

 What’s in the deal extension for Iran?

With the next OPEC meeting approaching, now the big question is that what this extension would mean for Iran and how will it affect the country’s economy?

According to market analysts lots of parameters should be considered in this regard but what is obvious is that extending the deal would definitely be in line with Iran’s economic policies.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran are again the most effective poles of the deal. Saudis, whose position in the market is weakened due to the significant cuts they have made in an effort to push the prices, are very likely to once again compromise with Iran.

They need the prices above $50 for Aramco’s bid to go as planned. The kingdom’s vision 2030 plan depends heavily on the upcoming IPO so they are doing whatever it takes to maintain the oil prices above $50.

Reuters reported on May 15 that Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's top two oil producers, made a joint announcement approving the need to extend output cuts for a further nine months until March 2018.

Having Russia in the equation and considering other OPEC and non-OPEC nations’ positive signals for backing the extension, there is a great chance that Iran won’t be needed to cut its production levels.

With Saudi and Russian early announcement, markets have started reacting positively to the notion of deal extension.

Extending the cuts further to 2018 is now very likely which will definitely help the prices go up in the near future.

Putting all these pieces together, one can say that Iran will probably be one of the main winners of the May 25 gathering and shall not leave the meeting empty handed.

The probable production cuts could once again provide a stage for Iran to make profitable use of its diplomacy and since – as explained - the country would definitely gain from the extension of OPEC, non-OPEC deal, so it will be reasonable for Iranian oil officials to do their best achieving this goal.

EF/MG

<div>Iran's 2-month electricity exports tripled</div>

TEHRAN-Iran's exports of electricity to its neighboring countries tripled in the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 21, compared to the same period last year, Fars news agency reported on Friday quoting an energy official.

According to Hooshang Falahatian, the deputy energy minister, it is not expected for the figure to stay at a 150 percent high all year, “it depends on the importing countries and maintaining the deals as well,” he said.

“However, it is estimated that electricity exports will experience a 50 percent rise by the end of the current [Iranian calendar] year,” Falahatian added.

The official further noted that Iraq has settled the second installment of its dues to Iran. Last January, Iran halted electricity supplies to Iraq because of the outstanding arrears, which have piled up to more than $1 billion.

With the second payment done, now the dues are reduced to $800 million.

Falahatian said that Iraq has been Iran’s top electricity importer so far and it is expected for exports to this country to further increase to 1350 megawatts.

Iran exchanges energy with its neighbors namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, as well as the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and it is expected to export 10 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity to the countries by the yearend.

EF/MA

Highlights of economy in presidential debates

The six presidential candidates in Iran have put economic issues on the spotlight, most notably in the last of the three debates cast live on the national TV on May 15.

Among the main economic subjects it can be referred to unemployment, cash subsidies, tax evasion, smuggling goods, and resistance economy. However, each of the candidates focused on specific aspects and outlined his own economic viewpoints.


Hassan Rouhani, Es’haq Jahangiri
The incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking a second four-year term, repeatedly underscored creation of new jobs for the country’s young labor force as the main priority set by his administration since taking office in August 2013. Calling unemployment a “heavy burden” that his administration has been carrying during the past four years. He vowed to keep the priority on top in his second term, too. Considering the rise in Iran’s oil revenues last year, he pledged that he will utilize oil income to create jobs benefiting from the National Development Fund. 
In a bid to reduce Gini coefficient- a statistical measure of income and wealth distribution in a society - Rouhani announced that he will increase cash subsidies but only for low-income earners, as he believes that augmenting the amount of cash handouts for all will lead to a rampant inflation rate and will foster poverty. 
Improving living standards in deprived rural areas and supporting the agriculture sector via promoting mechanization and modernizing machineries are among the other promises made by Rouhani.
Rouhani has highlighted the role of the private sector in turning the economy’s wheels, underlining that he will set up a proper platform for the private to expand activities via improving business environment and divesting shares of state-run companies.
The moderate president has also put the modification of the banking system and the reinforcement of the capital market to fund economic projects on his agenda.
He said that he will struggle for realizing the goal of social justice via fighting rent-seekers who have been able to run lucrative businesses and have often gone unrestrained by the previous administrations. He, accordingly, promised to fight administrative corruption in the country.
Rouhani plans to boost sustainable trade ties with the world and easing foreign trade via modifying Iran’s trade policies. In his last words during the televised debate, he promised normalization of relations with the West, greater foreign investments, and a revival of tourism.
Economic plans put forward by the incumbent first vice-president Es’haq Jahangiri are the most similar among the six candidates to those of Rouhani.
In his speeches, the centrist Jahangiri has emphasized that Iran’s economy must get resistant against the potential foreign threats. He believes that the economy needs to be both inclusive and extrovert. Inclusive economy is defined as one where local capacities and capabilities are focused on and efficiently utilized. 
Among these [capacities], he refers to geographical location, manpower, mineral resources and factories that must be fully taken advantage of. He is of the opinion that alongside inclusiveness, a resistant economy needs to be extrovert as well, meaning that a great economy like ours cannot and must not be confined within its borders. It has to link up with the world through dynamic interactions.
Preserving Iran’s economic growth on positive trajectory, increasing government’s revenues through levying taxes on the affluent and paying the income to the low-income earners, fighting smuggling of goods, creating jobs, supporting private sector activities, and improving business environment, foreign and domestic investments, production and exports of products and services, in Jahangiri’s opinion, are prerequisites to Iran’ economic development and on his agenda.
Eventually, Jahangiri left the race backing Rouhani on Tuesday.


Mostafa Hashemitaba
The former head of the Physical Education Organization and the National Olympic Committee, Mostafa Hashemitaba, has backed most of Rouhani’s economic policies, specifically during the televised debates, but has repeatedly announced that he will not withdraw from the election in Rouhani’s favor.  
In his view, the economy should be constructed on production and providing facilities. 
The industry and agriculture sectors are among his priorities and he plans to modernize them in his tenure. He also plans to attract investments to improve tourism.
“Export-oriented” economy with rooted industries is the answer to the problems of the country, Hashemitaba said.
He, in addition, pledged to combat administrative corruption and tax evasion.
On the way to correct the taxation system of the country, Hashemitaba promised to use a regulated system to monitor the financial transactions of people.

Ebrahim Raisi, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf
The mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and the current custodian and chairman of Astan Quds Razavi charity foundation, Ebrahim Raisi, are both principlist and criticize Rouhani’s policies. 
They blame Rouhani for a rise in unemployment rate from about 10.5 percent to above 12 percent and unfavorable living standards in the society, underlining that he has been unable to solve economic difficulties of ordinary people. They have claimed that Iran is facing an economic crisis, with rampant unemployment, recession and inflation. They classify the Iranian nation into two categories of rich and poor, with a huge gap between them and the rich in minority.
Both candidates have promised a sharp increase in monthly cash handout to the majority of people, even up to three times, reaching it to 2.5 million rials (around $66) from the current 455,000 rials (around $12) per month.
Raisi and Qalibaf have also made similar promises addressing the issue of unemployment. Raisi vowed to create 1.5 million jobs every year and push unemployment rate down to 8 percent. Qalibaf promised to generate 5 million jobs if elected. None of the candidates, however, presented specific plans to hit the targets.
The two candidates also expressed concern about the large volume of goods being smuggled into the country, which they say stands at $25 billion per annum. 
The main economic promises made by Raisi, who is now the main rival of Rouhani and has named his future government “Government of Work and Munificence”, include combating tax evasion, activating small and medium-size production units, amending administrative corruption, and finalizing the construction of the remained Mehr housing units- a large-scale construction program initiated in 2007 by the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to provide two million low-income people with housing units through free land and cheap credits.
Eventually, Qalibaf withdrew his presidential candidacy on Monday in favor of Raisi.


Mostafa Mirsalim
Another principlist candidate Mostafa Mirsalim, who is a member of the Expediency Council, can also be regarded as one of Rouhani’s criticizers.
He seriously believes that the current problems of the domestic economy and production as well as the high volume of smuggling are the result of mismanagement and inefficient utilization of the workforce.
In his regard, sanctions are not threats to Iran and the country can become self-sufficient and increase exports via proper management.
He said that his priority includes economic issues and focusing on endogenous capabilities as well as resistance economy. He promised to achieve endogenous growth in Iran through preventing from brain drain. He explained that his resistance economy model will use foreign expertise and domestic manpower.
Lamenting about the country’s reliance on oil revenues, he pledged that his administration will look inside the country rather than outside to advance the economy.
By creating jobs, Mirsalim believes that he can emerge the economy out of recession. 
He called other candidates’ vow to increase cash handouts a “populist gambit.” 


Contradictory views
Economic stances and promises discussed by the six candidates suggest some contradictory views and statistical figures. 
Raisi, Qalibaf, and Mirsalim believe that the implementation of the nuclear deal, signed between Iran and the six world powers in July 2015, has not had a great positive impact on Iran’s economy, international banking relations, and quality of life for people. Economy, according to them, is suffering from recession and low-income earners in Iran are experiencing lives with lowest standards. The three candidates censure Rouhani for not succeeding in delivering job creation promises and improving lives of Iranians and failing what he had promised to reach in his first presidential term. The wheels of economy are not turning, they say.
Rouhain, Jahangiri, and Hashmitaba, on the other hand, refer to official statistics saying that that Iran has witnessed economic growth over the past four years and was successful in overcoming recession. They believe that recession merely exists in the housing but not in other economic sectors. They say that the nuclear deal implementation has opened gateways to international trade and led to attraction of foreign investments into the country. Iran’s dependence on oil income has reduced, they say, adding that Iranians will see more results of sanctions removal in near future. 
Interestingly, the data offered by candidates during televised debates about smuggling is contradictory. The principlist candidates put the annual value of goods being smuggled into the country at $25 billion, while Rouhani and Jahangiri said the data goes back to Iranian calendar year 1392 (2013-14) and the value now stands at around $12-13 billion. 
All in all, Iranians will vote for the next president on Friday.
HJ/MG

Iranian goods permanent expo opens in Dushanbe

TEHRAN - Permanent exhibition of Iranian goods and services called “Almas” was opened in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

As IRNA reported on Wednesday, Iran’s ambassador to Dushanbe and a handful of Tajik officials attended the opening ceremony.
Construction equipment, food products, detergents, medicine, carpets and footwear are among Iranian products being presented at the exhibition.

EF/MA

Iran inks MOU with Finland’s major financing company

TEHRAN - Export Guarantee Fund of Iran and Finish state-owned financing company Finnvera, which is the country’s official Export Credit Agency, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on insurance cooperation in Denmark, IRNA reported on Tuesday.

The MOU, which was signed on the sidelines of Berne Union’s spring meeting in Copenhagen, covers various areas including joint insurance coverage in third countries, commercial and credit information exchange between the two countries and other areas of trade facilitation.

EF/MA
 

French carmakers rushing into Iran’s market in rivals’ absence

TEHRAN- French carmakers are rushing into Iranian market in the absence of rivals.

PSA and Renault are turning the U.S. absence in the Iranian market into an advantage by piling into a resurgent market still off-limits to foreign rivals fearful of sanctions under Donald Trump's administration, Reuters reported on Tuesday. 
Unrestricted by sanctions that remained on the books - keeping their U.S. and German competitors out, Peugeot and Citroen maker PSA and Renault are free to enter Iran's relatively untapped market.
Renault’s sales in Iran rose sharply (161.5%) for a market share of 9%, up 4.9 points, in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of time in 2016, the company’s international website reported in late April.
According to the report, the increase has occurred thanks to the success of Tondar and Sandero in Iran.
Also, according to a report released by Renault in late March, the company could sell 13,449 cars during the first month of 2017 in Iran, showing a 348-percent increase compared to the same month last year.
In January 2016, Renault sold more than 3,000 cars in the Iranian market.
Meanwhile, Peugeot has agreed to make the Peugeot 2008 locally. This could be quite a boon for them because there's a 40 percent import tariff at the moment. 

MA/MG
 

Iran, Russia integrate bank card systems

TEHRAN- Iran and Russia integrated their bank card systems with each other for the citizens of both sides to be able to use their bank cards in each other's countries, Public Relations Department of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced.

According to CBI, the two countries have started related trial transactions since Monday and Iranian citizens will be able to use their cards on the territory of Russia, while Russian bank cards will automatically operate in Iran like local cards from the end of Iranian fifth calendar month of Mordad (August 22), IRIB reported on Wednesday.  

MA/MG

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