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How US sanctions will impact Iranian startups

While established Iranian startups are likely to withstand the impact of US sanctions, the return of increasing tension between Tehran and Washington will nonetheless choke investment and business confidence.
TEHRAN, IRAN - JULY 12: Young Iranian high-tech and start-up specialists work their computers at Sarava, a local venture capital firm that invests in start-ups at Pardis Technology Park, 15 miles east of Tehran, Iran, on July 12, 2015. After the Iran nuclear deal was signed on July 14 that will lift sanctions in exchange for capping Iran's nuclear program, Iranian companies are preparing to return to global financial and trade networks, and expect billions of dollars in investments. President Hassan Rouhani

TEHRAN, Iran — On May 8, US President Donald Trump finally carried out his threat to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Agreed on by Iran and six world powers back in 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) still has the support of its remaining signatories, namely the European Union, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. But in the eyes of Iranian businessmen and observers, the US withdrawal will nonetheless have a game-changing impact on the historic deal. Indeed, Trump’s move is expected to bring about devastating repercussions for the business environment in Iran.

Already, the overall level of investment appears set to fall in the coming months. The JCPOA had provided a level of investment security in Iran in the past couple of years. That will soon be affected, many experts in Iran believe. Immediately after Trump’s May 8 announcement, market players in Iran got nervous. A number of financial experts who attended an investment conference on May 9 in Tehran voiced deep worries about the consequences of the US withdrawal. Shanbemag, a leading startup weekly, reported May 12 that the majority of the conference speakers were worried about significant ramifications of the likely return of financial sanctions on the already deeply troubled Iranian banking system, and in turn other sectors of the economy. Yet some conference attendees were confident that big Iranian tech firms will be able to withstand the impact of US sanctions.

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