Most Middle East countries have been given higher creditworthiness ratings in the latest six-monthly survey of bankers’ attitudes to sovereign lending published by the New York monthly Institutional Investor.

It showed that Lebanon, Morocco and Kuwait have all been given sharply higher creditworthiness ratings than a year ago. It also shows that the six member states of the GCC, bankers’ favourite Middle East countries, were all ranked above any of the former socialist countries of central and Eastern Europe.

The survey is compiled from information provided by leading international banks. It gives 134 countries scores between zero and 100 depending upon the chance of them defaulting on sovereign borrowing.

Countries of the Middle East excluding Turkey and North Africa were given a general upgrade, mainly because of developments in the Arab-Israel peace process. Saudi Arabia was given a lower rating in recognition of its financial difficulties. Iran’s rating was cut because of debt service problems. Algeria was sharply downgraded due to financial and political issues.