Lebanon Central Bank head says expects economy to grow 2% in 2018

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Updated 12 July 2018
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Lebanon Central Bank head says expects economy to grow 2% in 2018

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday he expects the economy to grow by 2 percent and for inflation to be 4-5 percent in 2018.
Speaking at an economic conference in Beirut, Salameh said the estimates were made in the light of a slowdown in the real estate sector and stable consumption.
Lebanon has been suffering weak growth since 2011, hit by regional turmoil. The IMF has estimated growth rates of 1-1.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, saying traditional drivers of the economy - construction and real estate - remain subdued.
The IMF has also called for "an immediate and substantial" fiscal adjustment to improve the sustainability of public debt, which stood at more than 150 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2017.
Salameh said he expects bank lending to decrease by 1.6 percent in 2018 compared to last year and, based on data from the first five months of this year, for bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.
Lebanon's economy relies on the confidence of millions of expatriate Lebanese who deposit money into local banks. The banks buy government debt, which finances the expanding budget deficit and debt.
Foreign deposit inflows into the banking system have slowed since 2011. The IMF says private sector deposits grew 3.8 percent last year - below the average for recent years.


Jordan, Iraq move forward with border industrial zone

Updated 2 min 23 sec ago
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Jordan, Iraq move forward with border industrial zone

LONDON: Jordan and Iraq have moved ahead with a plan to establish a joint industrial zone on the border between the two countries, according to reports.
Jordan’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tariq Hammouri and Iraq’s Minister of Industry and Minerals Saleh Al-Jabouri have agreed on the required practical steps to develop the zone, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Hammouri and Al-Jabouri’s discussions included facilitating procedures to boost the sale of Jordanian commodities in Iraq, and exempting them from customs in accordance with a bilateral free trade agreement. Hammouri said the discussions will give a strong push for economic cooperation between Amman and Baghdad.