Iranian economy under President Hassan Rouhani gaining strength, though could face short-term pressure from "external factors," the IMF said. File photo by Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA
Dec. 18 (UPI) -- While facing uncertainties because of external factors, the Iranian economy is expected to pick up the pace, the International Monetary Fund said Monday.
"Growth has begun to broaden to the non-oil sector," Catriona Purfield, a country team leader for the IMF, said in her closing report. "Real gross domestic product growth is projected to reach 4.2 percent in 2017-18 and is expected to be sustained or even rise toward 4.5 percent over the medium-term if financial sector reform takes hold."
Iran is one of the larger producers among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In November, the Central Bank of Iran reported tax revenue generated from the sale of crude oil and oil products increased more than 80 percent from last year.
The bank reported total tax revenues during the six months of the Iranian calendar year, which began March 21, was $15.9 billion, down about 3.6 percent from the same period last year. Total expenses, meanwhile, were up more than 13 percent from last year.
Campaigning for a second term in office earlier this year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said easing international sanctions and addressing a high rate of inflation were national priorities. As easing sanctions make it somewhat easier to do business in Iran, Rouhani boasted after the elections that banking channels to the world could be opening up.
Inflation, nevertheless, was a drag on momentum for Iran at 9.9 percent. Purfield said while growth is apparent, it will be tested by near-team challenges in the way of "external uncertainty."
Pressure on Iran from some pro-Western governments has escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump took office last year. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley last week presented what she said was "undeniable" evidence Iran was providing weapons to the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.
The Trump administration argued the debris was evidence of Iran's violation of a resolution the United Nations passed after Tehran and Western countries agreed to a deal halting Iran's nuclear program in 2015.
Tehran, though, said the missile debris was "fabricated."
For OPEC, Iran produced about 3.8 million barrels per day last month, a slight decline from the previous month. Total Iranian oil production last year was around 3.79 million barrels per day.
Purfield added that Iran could see further gains by reforms "that unshackle the non-oil private sector" and by letting more of the "highly educated women" into the workforce.