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Trade Performance

Situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the heart of the Arab world, Lebanon’s role in the region was principally shaped by trade that constituted a significant source of both income and employment.

 

Overall trade to and from Lebanon has been impacted by the regional conflict and the closing of the border areas with Syria. To counter the impact of the decline, the Lebanese Government introduced the Maritime Lebanese Bridge Program (M LEB) to support exporters in re-routing their exports through sea routes. 

IMPORTS & EXPORTS

IMPORTS

 

In 2016, Lebanese imports reached a value of USD 18.7 billion down from 18.1 billion in 2015. Major imports in 2016 included Mineral products (20% of total imports), Chemical products (10.9%),  Machinery and Electrical equipment (10%), Vehicles and other transportation equipment (9.5%), Food & Beverage (7.5%), Pearls, precious stones and metals (6.7%) and metal products (6.3%).

 

IMPORT COMPOSITION (2016)

IMPORT COMPOSITION (2016)

Source: Higher Council of Customs


EXPORTS


Exports followed the same trend, registering an increase of USD 24 million and reaching USD 2.98 billion in 2016. Major exports included Pearls, precious stones and metals (27.8% of total exports), Food & Beverages (15%), Machinery and Electrical equipment (11.2%), Chemical Products (10.2%), Metals products (8.5%)  and Vegetable Products (6.4%).

 

EXPORT COMPOSITION (2016)

EXPORT COMPOSITION (2016)

Source: Higher Council of Customs

TRADE PARTNERS

Top trade export partners in 2016 were Turkey with 15.9% of total exports, Syria with 15.1% of total share, followed by Saudi Arabia with 7.7%,UAE with 5.3%, Kuwait (5.2%), Egypt (4.9%), Iraq (4.2%) and Jordan at 3.7%. Middle Eastern countries continue to be the main export markets, receiving more than 60% of total Lebanese exports. These exports were valued at USD 1.2 billion in 2016.

 

European Union countries follow, and account for 12.9% of total exports. The opening up of the Lebanese economy to Arab and European countries through the various trade agreements, and more specifically the EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement) signed in 2002, have clearly facilitated market access and impacted export composition.

 

MAIN DESTINATION OF EXPORTS (2016)

 

Country

% Share of
Total Exports

Top Exported Products

Turkey

15.9

Metal Products, Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Pulp of Woods and Papers
Syria

15.1

Food and Beverages, Vegetable Products, Mineral Products, Plastics, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Chemical Products, Machinery and Electrical Equipments
KSA

7.7

Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Chemical Products, Plastics, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Animal or Vegetable Oils
UAE

5.3

Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Chemical Products, Plastics, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Animal or Vegetable Oils
Kuwait 5.2 Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Chemical Products, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Stone and Plaster Articles, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Animal or Vegetable Oils
Egypt

4.9

Vegetable Products, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Mineral Products, Plastics, Raw Hides and Skins, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Food and Beverages
Iraq

4.2

Food and Beverages, Chemical Products, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Vegetable Products, Plastics, Metal Products, Wood articles
Jordan

3.7 

Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Chemical Products, Plastics, Machinery and Electrical Equipments

Source: Higher Council of Customs

The top trade import partners during 2016 were Greece with 14.1% of total share, followed by Russia with 11.2% and China with 8.7%, as well as Italy with 8.1% and the Kuwait with 5.6%. The largest suppliers of Lebanese products are European countries with 40.2% of total share of imports.

  

MAIN ORIGIN OF IMPORTS (2016)

 

Country

% Share of
Total Imports

Top Imported Products

Greece

14.1

Mineral Products, Food and Beverages, Chemical Products, Vegetable Products, Wood Articles, Stone and Plaster Articles, Metal Products, Plastics, Machinery and Electrical Equipments
Russia

11.2

Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Metal Products, Wood Articles, Chemical Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Food and Beverages, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Vehicles
China

8.7

Metal Products, Stone and Plaster Articles, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Plastics, Chemical Products, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Wood Articles, Vegetable Products, Vehicles, Food and Beverages
Italy

8.1

Mineral Products, Stone and Plaster Articles, Chemical Products, Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Metal Products, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Wood Articles, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Plastics
Kuwait 5.6 Mineral Products, Plastics, Stone and Plaster Articles, Chemical Products
Ukraine

5.3

Vegetable Products, Metal Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Food and Beverages, Chemical Products, Wood Articles, Stone and Plaster Articles
Egypt

4.6

Stone and Plaster Articles, Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Food and Beverages, Chemical Products, Metal Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Plastics, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Wood Articles
USA

4.5

Mineral Products, Vehicles, Pulp of Wood and Papers, Food and Beverages, Vegetable Products, Plastics, Machinery and Electrical Equipments, Chemical Products, Wood Articles, Animal or Vegetable Oils

Source: Higher Council of Customs

TRADE REGIME

Lebanon has a free trade system and a competitive market with a commercial proactive approach.

 

According to the latest Trade (MFN) Tariff Restrictiveness Index (TTRI), Lebanon ranked 59th out of 125 countries, making  it  more open than that of an average Middle East and North Africa (MNA) or lower‐middle‐income country.


In fact, Lebanon's imposed tariffs are negligible and one of the lowest among MENA countries; more than 84 % of customs' tariff lines have duties equal to 0 or 5 %. The government does not impose tariffs on exports, and import tariffs were reduced by 80% in 2008. Moreover, many European goods are exempted from customs fees in accordance with the European Mediterranean Association Agreement and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) agreement, effective beginning of March 2015. 

 

Export activities benefit from favorable access to international markets. The numerous trade agreements signed with Arab countries and the European Union aim at enhancing economic integration and access of Lebanese products. As a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade

Area (GAFTA) and a signatory of the Association Agreement with the EU, and a number of other bilateral and multilateral agreements. 
Lebanon provided the opportunity for Lebanese companies to access, customs free, and markets close to 800 million people. 

 

In 2016, the trade deficit in Lebanon increased by 4.05%, to register USD 15.73B due to a 3.5% increase in total imports.

 

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (2016) 

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (2016)

Source: Higher Council of Customs

Get in Touch
Lazarieh Tower, 4th Floor, Emir Bechir Street, Riad El-Solh Beirut, Lebanon, P.O.Box 113-7251
Phone
+961 1 983306 / 7 / 8
Fax
+961 1 983302 /3
LEBANON AT A GLANCE GUIDE 2016
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