Lebanon hosts Rome II conference aimed at debt relief and increased foreign investment

Lebanon hosts Rome II conference aimed at debt relief and increased foreign investment

Today, the Rome II Conference on Lebanon will meet in the Italian capital. The conference is an attempt by the

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Photo: Lebanese National News Agency

Today, the Rome II Conference on Lebanon will meet in the Italian capital.

The conference is an attempt by the Lebanese government to rally the international community’s support for Lebanon and its heavily indebted economy. Delegates from several NATO countries and the UN come to the conference that aims to build off the identical goals of the 2014 Rome I conference.

Lebanon is the third-most indebted country in the world. The IMF warned last month that its debt-to-GDP ratio could reach 180% if reforms are not made to narrow its fiscal deficit.

With war raging in neighbouring Syria, Lebanese ministers have connected regional instability to financial problems. They have pointed to factors such as geographical proximity, Hezbollah and the Syrian refugee crisis as causes of lacking investor confidence in the economy. They add that there is reason to be concerned that Lebanon might face a similar collapse to Syria if the financial situation does not significantly improve.

Expect Lebanese delegates to cite a 2018 budget seeking parliamentary approval that projects a fiscal deficit $145 million lower than in 2017 to assure investors that Lebanon is actively trying, at least financially, to ameliorate its problems.