Iran Nuclear Deal: Economic Prospects for Armenia
The Iran deal will strengthen Iran’s position in the region and positively affect the Armenian-Iranian relations in several sectors.

The Media Center held a discussion on the nuclear deal with Iran and its repercussions in the region. The speakers included: Levon Dokholyan, MP at Rule of Law Faction; Sevak Sarukhanyan, PhD (Political Sciences); and Vardan Voskanyan, Head of Faculty of Oriental Studies, Iran expert.

Vardan Voskanyan believes after sanctions are lifted and Iran returns to the international community as a full member, the Middle East will see certain shifts.

“Iran’s influence in the region will increase and it will affect issues of Iraq and to Syria. Iran – a world leader of Shiite Islam - will spread its influence from a religion perspective, too. The West is likely to gain since it fails to control the situation in this part of the world,” Voskanyan said.

From an economic perspective, Armenia cannot expect much from this rapprochement though the deal will affect several industries, Sevak Sarukhanyan believes.

“First, agriculture and cattle breeding. Iran made fairly large investments in sheep farming in Armenia before the sanctions were imposed on the country. The Armenian produce was mainly exported to the Iranian market but then Iran halted exports because of currency crisis,” Sarukhanyan said.

Sarukhanyan believes a new high voltage power line spanning to Iran may be constructed. “Both Iran and Armenia must be interested in it. As for large-scale projects, their implementation is not directly linked to the lifting of sanctions. These projects are planned to involve investments by a third country, and it is not related to the socio-economic situation in Iran.”

Iran, Levon Dokholyan believes, has the potential to become the second leading market for Armenia after Russia.

“We can see that tendency in agriculture. We can export the produce to Iran but now we need business forums, certification system and developed infrastructure. We must detect problems and find instant solutions to them step by step,” Dokholyan said.

Sarukhanyan, however, believes Iran is growing into a more competitive country and Armenia lacks the potential to export products to Iran since “Iran is a fast-growing industrial country.”

Armenia now must focus on attracting Iranian investments, especially in the chemical industry, Sarukhanyan said.

Voskanyan said both countries must agree to develop a plan for building infrastructure. The North-South Road and railway must be constructed.

“Secondly, Armenia provides education which is attractive for Iranians. Finally, Armenia may assume the role of a mediator between Russia and Iran because, regardless of all the differences, we better understand the mentality and psychology of Iranians,” Voskanyan said.

Armenia – without a powerful industry – may become a platform and gate bridging EEU and Iran since it is the only EEU member state which has a land border with Iran, Voskanyan said.

Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator

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