Economy, Business And Markets

Investors’ Image of Iran

Investors’ Image of IranInvestors’ Image of Iran

Iranian people and government officials must work to improve the world’s perception of making an investment in the country, which has been misrepresented, partly by the biased media, Iranian essayist Hossein Rahdari says in Donya-e-Eqtesad’s Wednesday editorial, titled “Investors’ image of Iran”.

Rahdari, who holds an MS degree in computational finance from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and MBA from Sharif University of Technology, also believes that providing authentic information to foreigners willing to invest in Iran is of utmost importance.

 The editorial is presented below:

Iran is undoubtedly the most overlooked country in the world. Traditionally, the country was known for its rugs, pistachio, saffron and caviar. But this picture is unfamiliar to the new generations in other countries, since the market for such luxury products have either lost some of their luster or the old rivals have overtaken Iran by using their initiative and better prices, but that’s not the whole story.

Many tourists say they believed that Iran was a dangerous country with bigoted, uncivilized people but were shocked when they set foot on Iran’s soil. They unanimously blame the world media for painting such a misleading picture.

Some are even struck by our own indifference, our reluctance to correct this image. Many countries that don’t have a long and colorful history are busy advertising themselves, while Iran has abandoned the duty to the biased media, those who are engaged in painting a gloomy picture of our land.

All that said, the idea floated last week by President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Mohsen Jalalpour on making waves on social media by trending hashtags such as #IranEconomy would prove to be an effective way to redress the situation.

Jalalpour appealed to “all Iran’s well-wishers to employ whatever tools they may have at their command” to bring foreign investors up to date on Iran’s new economic climate and encourage them to put their money into its market. He believes that a big movement toward shedding light on Iran’s investment opportunities needs to be set in motion by every Iranian, no matter where they live.

He thinks such a use of social media platform is bound to produce desired results for the economy.

Economic data and information on investment opportunities in Iran need to be conveyed to the world through official channels. False, inaccurate information might confuse those willing to pour their money into our country.

All Iranians should try to improve the country’s image, no question about that, but this does not absolve the government of its responsibilities in this regard.

Besides, inviting a guest and entertaining them are two separate things. Tourists need to be treated differently from investors.

Tourists would stay for a couple of days, take pictures of the beauties of our country, spend money and go; whereas investors are not weeklong guests. They won’t get mesmerized by our ancient civilization. They seek their own economic benefit, which should be guaranteed by the advantages of our country.

Are we ready to welcome such guests? Has the country made any headways in terms of improving the business environment, competitiveness or socio-cultural awareness about foreign investment compared to a decade ago? Or have we regressed in these areas?

Our unpreparedness would both disappoint ourselves—as the receivers of investments—and foreign investors.

Let’s take the example of the new Iran Petroleum Contracts as one of the hurdles in the way of absorbing foreign investment. IPCs, which are the revised version of Iranian oil and gas contracts, were unveiled in a major conference in Tehran last year. They offer international companies more attractive terms for cooperation and investment in the country’s multibillion dollar energy projects compared to the buyback contracts that were in place for the past 20 years.

Apart from the way these contracts were unveiled or their shortcomings, just the unorthodox, rowdy protests made against these contracts are enough to give cold feet to many foreign oil companies. They are just about to give up the ghost, fearing the possibility of termination of the contracts by others which is, sadly, not unprecedented in our history.

Of course, nothing is worse than investors coming to a conclusion that the host country’s legal responsibilities are there to be disclaimed.

Therefore, it’s vital to introduce Iran’s economic condition and investment opportunities to the world accurately. But before that, we need to ready ourselves for what follows, that is investment management, and take charge after the deal is done.