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Iran set to return to global bond market

|By Arabian Post Staff|Iran is exploring a return to international debt markets for the first time since 2002, a senior government official said, as the Islamic Republic seeks to finance an economic recovery a year after a historic nuclear deal that offered it a route out of isolation, Bloomberg reported.

It quoted Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia, whose ministry is at the forefront of securing Iran’s access to the global financial system, as saying in an interview  that he expects his country to secure a credit rating in the “near future,” a step that could help attract bond investors. Iranian officials are “negotiating with all the rating agencies,” he said.

Ten months before his first term ends, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is seeking to turn his landmark diplomatic success into tangible economic benefits for Iran’s 80 million people. His bid to lure billions of dollars in foreign investment needed to rebuild infrastructure has been hindered by the concern of global banks they might fall foul of U.S. Treasury sanctions not lifted under the July 2015 accord. Tehran has also heavily criticized moves by Republican lawmakers in Washington to roll back the deal.

 “In the area of banking relations, especially big banks, we are still faced with some problems,” Tayebnia said. “However, some of these problems, gradually and over time, will be resolved.”

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Iran agreed to dismantle key parts of its atomic program under the July 2015 deal in return for the removal of most sanctions. The agreement averted a possible military confrontation by eliminating Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear warheads, weapons the Islamic Republic denied seeking.

For many investors, it also meant the possibility of opening up one of the world’s last major untapped frontier markets.

Iran last issued international debt in July 2002, according to the International Monetary Fund. Officials from Fitch Ratings visited the country in June to make an initial assessment of the economy, Akbar Komijani, a deputy central bank governor, said in an interview on June 30. The company said in March it was in discussions with the Islamic Republic but declined to elaborate.

Fitch withdrew its B+ sovereign rating, the fourth-highest junk grade, for Iran in 2008 following the maturity and full repayment of its last sovereign Eurobond that year. Moody’s withdrew its B2 rating on Iran in 2002, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.