The Impact of COVID-19 on Iran’s Economy

 The Impact of COVID-19 on Iran’s Economy

Among countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Iran is a unique case. Over the past decade, Iran’s economy has suffered at the hands of various political decisions by its own government officials, as well as foreign policies like those of the United States.

The history behind Iran’s economic and political predicament is long and complicated, but ultimately its current state is a product of the sanctions implemented by the United States. Although many countries have implemented similar sanctions against Iran, the United States withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal which stipulated the terms of these impositions, and began a harsher campaign of sanctions in 2018. This caused a great economic decline, which contributed to a decline in both the standard of living and the availability of social services. With this context in mind, examining the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic becomes easier.

At the time of the initial outbreak, Iran had already experienced two years of hardships regarding their exports, inflation, and currency devaluation. Sanctions made it difficult for Iran to find international buyers for their oil exports, which led to issues in garnering foreign currency and a swift decline in their own currency. Many international leaders had been anticipating Iran would succumb to these pressures in the near future. However, as the pandemic swept through the country, Iran’s problems compounded without persuading its government to budge. To combat COVID-19 in its initial stages, Iran enacted social distancing and stay-at-home measures in various forms. During this period, Iran’s per capita household expenditure decreased three times faster than expected.

When the difficulties faced by Iran’s population was viewed internationally, many world leaders pleaded for the United States to ease the pressure, to no avail. In fact, upon recognizing the mounting pressure on Iran, the United States further contributed to its difficulties in order to leverage the situation in their favor. Despite the detrimental effects of this pressure on the economy and wellbeing of Iranian citizens, they were soon able to reduce their COVID-19 cases and ease the strain on their healthcare sector, which also suffered from a lack of medical supplies. After pandemic measures were put in place, Iran was able to meet the needs of their COVID-19 patients and drop their death rate on par with neighboring countries. However, these pandemic measures also caused another economic downturn as it prevented many from continuing their employment. This led to a decrease in household income and the previously mentioned decrease in household expenditure.

Under these persistent economic pressures, Iran’s government officials decided to lift their pandemic measures and let businesses return to normal functioning. As expected, the economy soon began to recover while COVID-19 cases climbed. Unfortunately, the death toll is still unconfirmed as Iran is also suspected of altering their reported figures. Taking all of these moving parts under consideration, Iran’s economy is under significant duress. As they begin recuperating from the pandemic medically, socially, and economically, they still face many hurdles in developing the long-term stability and strength of their economy as a whole.

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