Arab Spring costs $120bn

A trader works at the Egyptian stock market in Cairo, October 28, 2008. (Reuters)

Political unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has cost affected countries nearly $120 billion and the losses are set to rise because of slower growth and foreign capital, according to an Arab official.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into the Arab world has already dived by nearly 24 per cent to reach $50 billion in 2011 compared with $66 billion  in 2010 because of the ongoing turmoil, said Saleh Kharabshi, secretary general of the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.

“FDI flow to the Arab region is expected at only around $53 billion this year while the stock markets in many regional countries have remained weak,” he told a conference on the so-called “Arab Spring” which opened in Jordan on Tuesday.

“Despite reform chances that emerged out of the current developments, the bill has been huge, mainly in the Arab countries which witnessed unrest..our estimates are that the Arab Spring has so far cost around $120 billion and the losses are set to swell because of lower growth and slackening FDI.”

In June, a Libyan banker said the “Arab Spring” has cost regional states nearly $75 billion until the end of 2011.

“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,” said Mohammed bin Yousuf, director general of the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB), which is controlled by the Libyan Central Bank.

He said the losses were caused by the drain of those countries’ local currency reserves, lower FDI 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.

He said Arab banks, which control nearly $three trillion in assets, should invest in the region following their massive losses in world markets due to the 2008 crisis.

Several Arab nations have been hit by political turbulence over the past three years, leading to the overthrow of their regimes, including Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. The unrest in Syria has developed into a full-scale armed conflict after President Bashar Al Assad rebuffed calls to step down.


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