The Levant region yields a mixed bag of prospects for general business and the projects market alike. While systemic fiscal and structural problems remain in Lebanon and Jordan, newly appointed governments in both markets have weathered recent social unrest and successfully reached out to regional allies and the international community for financial support.
In Lebanon, though it took nine months for Prime Minister Saad Hariri to form a government, Beirut has $11bn of loans and grants at its fingertips, contingent on its execution of economic reform measures. These include tackling Lebanon’s public debt, which several successive governments have let spiral out of control. Political consensus is needed to tackle the unsustainable costs incurred by energy subsidies and the public wage bill if Beirut is to secure funding and restore meaningful capital expenditure.
In Jordan, with Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz as the head of government, Amman has secured pledges of not only $2.5bn-worth of financial aid from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, but also global support for dozens of planned infrastructure projects following a conference in London in February. The government’s focus is on a project pipeline of 123 schemes that requires $17.7bn of investment, including 10 projects worth $4.2bn lined up for 2019.
There is less to look forward to in Syria, where the crippling damage dealt to the country’s infrastructure over the course of its eight-year conflict has been compounded in 2019 by a severe fuel crisis – as a result of the resumed US sanctions on Iran – that is now hampering economic recovery. There nevertheless remains interest among both Syria’s long-term allies in Moscow and Tehran and the Assad government’s on-and-off antagonists in the Gulf to fund the reconstruction effort. However, while Damascus needs finance, any support in the near-term will likely come from its traditional allies.
Lebanon in features
- Economy: Lebanon labours under the burden of its parlous finances
- Power: Beirut looks to reform ailing electricity sector
- Construction: Performance of construction market still weak
- Oil & Gas: Hopes pinned on second hydrocarbon licensing round
Jordan in features
- Economy & Finance: Amman works to replicate project finance success
- Power: Jordan makes progress with renewables agenda
- Construction: Industry under pressure as spending dries up
- Oil & Gas: Jordan turns its attention to local energy resources