Iran’s Khamenei Describes a ‘Difficult Year’ of Sanctions, Virus
Yellow taxi cabs sit in a traffic jam overlooked by a poster depicting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a city highway in Tehran, Iran. (Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg)

Iran’s Khamenei Describes a ‘Difficult Year’ of Sanctions, Virus

(Bloomberg) -- As Iran marked the beginning of a new calendar year on Friday, the country’s leaders pledged to improve the economy and domestic production in the face of crippling U.S. sanctions and a devastating pandemic.

“It was a difficult year,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a pre-recorded televised speech. “It started with floods and ended with coronavirus, coupled with other adversities, such as earthquake and sanctions during the year.”

He called the new Iranian calendar year “the year of surge in production”, suggesting the country’s economic woes “will certainly come to an end and sanctions will work in favor of the nation” if the Islamic Republic improves its domestic manufacturing sector and opens up to foreign markets.

“Sanctions have had benefits besides their detriments, as they forced us to think about supplying the country’s goods and needs,” he said.

Iran’s Khamenei Describes a ‘Difficult Year’ of Sanctions, Virus

Resistance Economy’

But the call for expansion of trade with the outside world comes despite Khamenei previously advocating the “resistance economy” -- a set of policies aimed at boosting production and self-sufficiency -- with little regard for President Hassan Rouhani’s efforts to open up the economy to foreign investors.

In a separate message broadcast on TV, Rouhani said his administration looks forward to transforming the lives of millions of Iranians affected by the coronavirus.

“The virus managed to endanger the health and businesses of our people, but we will overcome this problem,” he said, adding that “the year ahead should be a year of health and employment.”

Fatalities from the coronavirus in Iran reached 1,284 on Thursday from over 18,400 positive cases. Iran, the worst-affected country in the region, says U.S. sanctions have hindered its access to medical supplies necessary to contain the outbreak.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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