|Iran's economy boosted by Rouhani's approach||
Expressions of cautious optimism were heard in Tehran after a series of European Union court decisions recommended the removal of unilateral sanctions against dozens of Iranian firms, including crucial shipping lines.
"Now that our ships are free again, food is bound to get cheaper", a middle-aged customer joked while standing in line at a supermarket in the north of the city.
Food prices experienced a slight decline in staple categories like grains, meat and sugar, leading newspapers to herald the start of a much-needed price stabilization. In central Tehran's Ferdowsi Square, vendors sold foreign currency at some of the lowest rates this year, with the U.S. dollar trading at 30,000 rials - a week-to-week drop of 25%. Though a recent global plunge in dollar prices was partially responsible for the strengthened rial, one currency trader attributed it to "the international situation and people's confidence in the government."
As the country's new leaders prepare for a pivotal encounter with the international community at the United Nations General Assembly next days, a rare unity of goals among civic society and the government is helping to renew domestic confidence in the Islamic republic's potential for recovery.
As President Hassan Rouhani's newly appointed cabinet begins to tackle Iran's economic ailments on both the diplomatic and internal level, an independent initiative by local businessmen, academics and social activists aims to inject a human element into the growing domestic effort to lift the international sanctions against Iran.
"The country is at a rare moment when national solidarity is at a very high level," Tehran University economist Hassan Sobhani said. He emphasized that removing international sanctions is a goal shared by all social classes, and called on various institutions - from religious schools to scientific research institutions - to join in the campaign.
On the same day, a group of 156 Iranian economists, lawyers and journalists circulated a letter asking their "colleagues across the globe for support against sanctions on Iran." Invoking international law and the principles of fair trade, the letter's authors call the sanctions "contrary to global efforts to improve transparency, accountability and governance."
Though curing these ailments outright seems far-fetched in the short term, analysts recommend that Rouhani take immediate steps to stabilize the situation by the year's end. These include restoring the independence of the central bank, debilitated by international sanctions as well as the subsidy policies of the previous administration, as well as increasing transparency and speeding up the privatization of the oil and gas sector.
"The new government is aware of the main economic issues in Iran and is intending to take the steps needed to control inflation and regenerate the economic activity, whilst working with the current level of sanctions," said Hashem Pesaran, a professor of economics at the University of Southern California.
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