“Iran is one of the last remaining places, short of Mars and the Moon, where there is significant opportunity”. So says Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the global advertising giant WPP and one of the world’s most widely-followed analysts.
I agree that Iran – a country with a vast natural resource endowment and home to 81m people, many of them highly-educated – should rank among the world’s most exciting emerging markets.
Long-standing international sanctions against Iran could be dropped. That’s pretty astonishing given that, in the eyes of many Westerners, the country remains a pariah. The Lausanne framework agreement, which emerged after fraught negotiations in early April, means Iran – easily the world’s most significant isolated nation – could be returning to the global stage.
Even under sanctions, Iran’s $450bn economy is already among the top 25 largest on earth. Home to 81m people, it could soon get a lot bigger still. Since Hassan Rouhani became President in mid-2013, there’s been talk not only of Western rapprochement, but of Iran as an investment destination. The image Rouhani conveys – a moderate cleric, with a doctorate in law from a British university – contrasts sharply with that of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, a firebrand religious hardliner.