The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (Miga), a member of the World Bank Group, plans to step up support for Lebanese investors seeking to take their business into other developing countries.

“We’ve seen an increase in Lebanese investment going outside the country, particularly to other Middle Eastern countries and to Africa,” says Motomichi Ikawa, executive vice-president of Miga, during a three-day visit to Beirut. “Our aim is to reach out to the investment community to let them know how we can support their efforts, while at the same time encouraging the flow of foreign direct investment into Lebanon.”

Miga provides non-commercial risk insurance for foreign investments into developing countries, offering protection against risks such as transfer restriction, expropriation, breach of contract, and war and civil disturbance (including terrorism and sabotage).

During the visit, Ikawa and other agency representatives met with Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, minister of the economy and trade, Mar-wan Hamad é, Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, central bank governor Riad Salam é, heads of the Higher Council for Privatisation and the Council for Development and Reconstruction, as well as representatives of the Lebanese business community and foreign investors.

The meetings form part of an overall effort to intensify Miga’s presence not just in Lebanon, but within the region as well. In the past two years, Miga has supported investors from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia for their investments in countries such as Benin, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Syria. Miga is also providing assistance to regional investment promotion entities to increase the overall flow of foreign direct investment into the area.

Miga has several projects in the pipeline for investments going into Lebanon, and a number involving Lebanese investors going into other countries. In fiscal year 2002, Miga supported its first Lebanese investment, with the issuance of US$8mn in guarantees for a project involving the installation of a new GSM mobile telephone network in Benin.