Arab 'Spring' cost around $75bn

Political turmoil in the Arab region has cost affected countries nearly $75 billion and Libya, Egypt and Tunisia were the main victims, a Libyan banker has said.

Arab banks also lost a whopping $400 billion because of the 2008 global fiscal distress as a large part of their funds were invested in world markets, said Mohammed bin Yousuf, director general of the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB), which is controlled by the Libyan Central Bank.

“The economic losses caused by Arab revolutions are estimated at around $75 billion since they erupted in early 2011….most of the losses are in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia,” he told the London-based Saudi daily Asharqalawsat.

He said the losses were caused by the drain of those countries’ local currency reserves and a sharp decline in several economic activities.

Yousuf warned that losses would increase if conflict-hit Arab nations were late in taking measures to revive their economies and repair damage caused by unrest.

“These should include a road map that will bring local economies back on track, revive the tourism sector in Egypt and Tunisia and rehabilitate Libya’s oil sector…these countries have the capability to recover economically provided political and security stability is restored,” he said.

He said Arab banks, which control nearly $three trillion in assets, should invest in the Arab region following their massive losses in world markets due to the 2008 crisis. But Yousuf stressed that Arabs must first “eliminate financial and administrative corruption to encourage banks to repatriate their funds.”

“The 2008 crisis had a severe impact on Arab banks as they lost nearly $400 billion from their investments in American and European banks…Arab banks had nearly $two trillion in non-Arab banks and those losses must be a lesson for them to give more attention to the Arab market.”

 

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