Arab bankers call for economic "state of emergency", aid fund

Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:04pm GMT

* Foreign investment in Arab states plummets to $4.8 bln

* Arab unrest has cut economic growth

* Call for wealthy Gulf Arab states to support aid fund

By Erika Solomon and Laila Bassam

BEIRUT, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Arab banking officials warned that regional unrest and the world financial crisis had created an economic "state of emergency", and called for a special aid fund backed by wealthy Arab states to help recovery.

Speaking at the opening of the annual Arab Banking Summit in Beirut on Thursday, the chairman of the Arab Union of Banks Adnan Yousif said countries hit by pro-democratic protest movements, which have swept the region and forced out four long-standing rulers this year, would see severe economic losses.

"It is necessary to announce a state of emergency for Arab economies in order to reduce the impact (of recent unrest) on affected countries, and to lessen the impact of the world economic crisis on other Arab states," he said.

Some Arab central bankers said on Thursday that the global financial crisis presents an additional barrier to recovery as foreign investment dries up.

Foreign investment in the region has dropped to $4.8 billion for 2011 from $20 billion, according to the World Union of Arab Bankers, mostly due to regional instability.   Continued...

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