TEHRAN, March 23 (UPI) -- As nuclear negotiations resume in earnest, the Iranian finance minister said the economy should continue to expand for the Islamic republic.
Iran's economy emerged from recession in December, and Finance Minister Ali Tayebnia said the momentum should continue into the new year, which for Iran began Saturday.
"We predict a better situation in economy for the upcoming year," he said.
Sanctions imposed on Iran's energy sector curb the country's ability to generate revenue from oil and gas sales. The Central Bank of Iran, however, said a nine-month growth rate of 3.6 percent represents an increase of $54 billion for the nation's economy.
When he wrapped up his mission to Iran last month, Martin Cerisola, assistant regional director for the International Monetary Fund, warned "the sharp drop in global oil prices and an uncertain external environment" presents significant challenges to Iran's economic future.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during weekend celebrations for Nowruz, the start of the New Year, that non-oil exports would help drive the Iranian economy in the years ahead.
Iran is limited in the amount of oil it can export under a multilateral agreement reached in November 2013. A breakthrough in nuclear negotiations could lead to more oil revenue for Iran.
For U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reaching a deal is a matter of choice.
"We have not yet reached the finish line," he said. "But make no mistake; we have the opportunity to try to get this right."
Kerry is taking part in negotiations that continue this week.