09/20/2017, 18.39
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Iranians favour globalisation and trade with Europe, but fear Trump

Survey confirms increasing optimism among Iranians, a majority of whom believe they children will have a better future than them. For 90 per cent, the presence of foreign companies in the country is positive. The possible scrapping of the nuclear agreement is feared. European intellectuals, diplomats and ex military make an appeal in favour of the deal.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Iranians are generally in favour of globalisation and support it, call for economic reforms within the country, and want to improve economic and trade relations with Europe, this according to a survey conducted in August, whose results were recently published.

Although they hope for closer ties with the European Union, respondents fear that “pressures" from the United States – as evinced by Trump’s UN speech – will eventually drive a wedge between Brussels and Tehran.

Broadly speaking, the poll found that Iranian public opinion is increasingly optimistic about the country’s economic and social future, thanks to the lifting of sanctions following the nuclear agreement.

This stems from widespread support for "globalisation" – 62.5 per cent – which is defined in the survey as "the increased trade between countries in goods, services, and investment”.

Economics played a major role in Iran’s recent election campaign, becoming the subject of a tough debate between candidates who attacked each other.

Recently released data show that the reform campaign of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected on 19 May, had positive effects. In particular, Iranians are enthusiastic about foreign companies doing business in and with Iran.

A huge majority of Iranians (84.6 per cent) say that "the growing trade and business ties between Iran and other countries" have been either very or somewhat good for Iran, with 51.1 per cent saying that it leads to job creation in Iran and a plurality of 40.4 per cent saying that it increases Iranian wages.

When it comes to foreign companies opening factories in Iran, 90 per cent of Iranians see this as very or somewhat good.

Iranians seem most keen on attracting more business from Germany (66.1 per cent) and Japan (66.7 per cent), although the European Union is seen in positive light as well.

Conversely, there is still high suspicion towards the United States and one of Iran’s traditional partners, China. Only 19.1 per cent say more Chinese economic activity would benefit Iran "a lot”.

Despite some distrust if not hostility towards the current US administration, even a 49.9 per cent plurality would like to see more American companies doing business in Iran.

In the long run, Iranians seem optimistic about their economic future, with 56.6 per cent saying that today's children will be better off than their parents.

If there is any pessimism, it is related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. A clear majority (61.7 per cent) see the agreement as good and essential for the country’s future.

Meanwhile, some 76 intellectuals, activists, diplomats and former military officials from EU nations, Russia and the United Kingdom, signed a statement in favour of the nuclear deal, including former Spanish NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov, and former British Foreign Minister Lord David Owen.

Those who signed fear that Donald Trump might cancel what he has repeatedly called “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen”.

Unilateral actions by the US would be a "serious mistake" that would undermine American interests and the US image in Europe, as well as cooperation within the UN Security Council.

Although limited in duration and not as good as it could be, the JCPOA has limited Iran’s nuclear programme and boosted economic and trade cooperation with the West.

In the end, if the US pulls out, Europe should go in the opposite direction and do everything possible to preserve the agreement.

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