The head of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon said Thursday that companies seeking to make investments in Lebanon through the agency are awaiting the formation of the government before fully injecting cash into the country.
“We receive a lot of inquiries about prospects of investing in Lebanon in productive sectors but most of these investors are in a wait-and-see mode until the government is created.
“Formation of a Cabinet will restore confidence in the country,” Nabil Itani told The Daily Star.
He added that IDAL does not focus on short-term operations, but rather seeks long-term engagements from investors.
“There are several projects in the pipeline but some of these investors are waiting for a new development concerning the formation of the Cabinet. But eventually, we are going to have a government,” Itani said.
IDAL is the national investment promotion agency that was established in 1994 with the aim of promoting Lebanon as a key investment destination as well as facilitating and retaining such investments.
IDAL provides investors with a range of incentives and business support services. It has a set of priority sectors showing the most promise in terms of their investment potential and impact on socio-economic growth, including the agriculture, agro-industry, industry, IT, media, technology, telecommunication, and tourism sectors.
Itani revealed that IDAL received more inquiries from investors in the first six months of this year than the same period last year.
He added that most of the new investors are Lebanese expatriates.
“Some of the Gulf-based investors are gradually moving their businesses to Lebanon in light of the drop in oil prices that have affected their operations in Gulf countries.
“Most of these investors are not shifting their attention to productive sectors such as industry and agriculture, instead of tourism,” Itani said.
He added that in the last three months IDAL inaugurated three agro-food factories in the Bekaa valley, showing investors are inclined to focus more on productive sectors.
“We also had two tourist projects in the first three months; one of them was in Beit Mery. We also have a couple of projects involving pharmaceutical products. Most of these investors are based in South America,” Itani said, adding that in 2011, nearly 73 percent of the projects processed by IDAL were hotels.
“But now tourism represents 45 percent of the total projects approved by IDAL, and the rest involved industry and agriculture,” Itani said.
Itani estimated the value of the industrial projects in the first three months of this year close to $50 million. “In 2016 we had 60 meetings with potential investors but in 2017 we had 140, and this shows growing interest in Lebanon,” he added. Itani projected the foreign direct investment in Lebanon to reach $3 billion at the end of 2018 compared to $2.68 billion in 2017.
The Daily Star