By Alireza Ramezani for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
The Iranian capital played host to the four-day FINEX 2017 exhibition April 15-18. The annual event gathered more than 250 Iranian entities involved in banking and finance. While organizers dubbed it an international expo, only three foreign firms took part.
One of the driving factors behind the reluctance of foreign companies to engage with FINEX 2017 was the uncertainty over the future of Iran. Overshadowing the expo was the hostile rhetoric between Tehran and Washington and the upcoming May 19 presidential elections, which some argue could lead to the election of a conservative president.
As such, the presence of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the opening ceremony of the exhibition was perhaps an attempt to highlight the event in the face of negative sentiment against Iran. The moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani believes that Iran’s ambitious economic objectives cannot be achieved without the strong presence of multinational investors in the Iranian market.
This might be why Zarif, who served as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, in his April 15 speech attacked those criticizing the nuclear deal, which put an end to crippling sanctions against the country.
“If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was not signed, Iran’s crude oil export could not exceed 1 million barrels per day [bpd] now,” he said, referring to the more than 2.6 million bpd of crude being exported about one year after the implementation day of the nuclear deal. In other remarks, Zarif also noted that the state of Iran’s financial sector has improved significantly over the past 12 months.