Iran takes note of foreign investors

Iran says its economy is doing well even as the United States extends a sanctions program.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Dec. 2, 2016 at 6:13 AM
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TEHRAN, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- With Washington keeping its hold on the sanctions noose, the president of oil-rich Iran said foreign investors were moving into its economy.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani unveiled a draft budget plan that includes special credits for employment and billions of new dollars for construction. The president said that, since sanctions pressures eased in Iran in response to a multilateral nuclear deal, Iran was spared some of the economic shortfalls experienced by its oil-producing peers.

"Iran for the first time in its history not only withdrew nothing from its emergency reserve funds but also deposited 20 percent of its petrodollars into its National Development Fund over the past two years," he said in an address.

Iran is one of the main producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It reported to OPEC that it produced about 3.9 million barrels of oil per day in October, a figure that's about 25 percent higher than the average from last year.

Iran aims to draw new investors to an oil sector previously restricted by sanctions. Oilfield services company Schlumberger, which has its main offices in the United States, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with an Iranian oil company for data-sharing.

"Foreign investment has started in our country," Iran's president said.

His announcement followed a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years. The measure targets energy and other Iranian industries, though the U.S. president can ease restrictions. Many of the measures were suspended when the United Nations verified this year that Iran was complying with the terms of the multilateral agreement.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump pledged to reconsider the nuclear deal, though several U.N. Security Council members are involved. In supporting the extension, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said it was those sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

"We need to send a signal to Iran that the United States, while meeting its obligations under the [joint nuclear deal], will continue to respond to other threatening and dangerous activities the Iranian regime has taken," he said.

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