The Italian government this week hosted an event aiming to encourage the country’s private sector to invest in Lebanon, the Italian Embassy said in a statement Friday.
One hundred three Italian companies attended the event Wednesday, which was billed as the first of its kind.
It was hosted by Italy’s Foreign Affairs and Economic Development ministries at the Italian Trade Agency’s Rome headquarters, in cooperation with the Italian Embassy in Beirut, the press release said.
The companies were briefed on investment opportunities arising from the Capital Investment Program, the Lebanese government’s ambitious plan to boost the country’s infrastructure and increase economic growth, presented at last year’s CEDRE conference in Paris.
Priority sectors included “energy, water and wastewater, solid waste, infrastructures, telecommunications, and … agroindustry,” the statement said. “Participants expressed the need to shift from a business model based exclusively on trade relations to one open to industrial partnership and joint ventures, in order to build on the manufacturing potential of Lebanon,” it added.
The CEDRE conference aimed to bolster Lebanon’s weak economy, with international donors pledging to invest over $11 billion in grants and soft loans. Economic and financial reforms, including a deficit reduction, are key criteria to unlocking the funding.
The draft 2019 budget, which needs to be ratified by Parliament, seeks to reduce the deficit from 11.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2018 to 7.6 percent. Lebanon’s debt is currently equal to about 150 percent of GDP.
The Daily Star