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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. In 2017, Lebanon’s Balance of Payments (BoP) registered a deficit of USD 156 million in 2017, much lower than the annual average deficit of USD 1.88 billion recorded over the period 2011-2015.  As for the trade balance, Lebanon’s trade deficit increased by 29% to reach USD 20.3 billion by the end of 2017.

IMPORTS & EXPORTS

IMPORTS

 

In 2017, Lebanese imports reached a value of USD 23.1 billion up from USD 18.7 billion in 2016. Major imports in 2017 included Mineral products (33.9% of total imports), Chemical products (9.2%), Machinery and Electrical equipment (8.4%), Vehicles and other transportation equipment (8.1%), Food & Beverage (5.9%), Metal Products (5.5%) and Pearls, precious stones and metals (4.3%).

 

IMPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2017)

IMPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2017)

Source: Lebanese  Customs


EXPORTS


In 2017, Lebanese exports reached 2.8 billion compared to USD 2.9 billion in 2016. Major exports included Pearls, precious stones and metals (20.6% of total exports), Food & Beverages (16.1%), Metal products (12%), Chemical Products (11.3%), Machinery and Electrical equipment (11.1%), and Vegetable Products (6.%).

 

EXPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2017)

EXPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2017)

Source: Lebanese Customs

TRADE PARTNERS

Top trade export partners in 2017 were Turkey with 21.3% of total exports, Syria with 15.9%, followed by Saudi Arabia with 6.1%,Egypt with 5.1%, Kuwait (4.7%), UAE (4.4%), Iraq (3.9%) and Bangladesh at 3.8%. Middle Eastern countries continue to be the main export markets, receiving more than 70% of total Lebanese exports. These exports were valued at USD 1.47 billion in 2017.

 

European Union countries follow, and account for 8.9% 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 (% Share l 2017)

 

Country

% Share of 
Total Exports

Top Exported Products

Turkey

21.3

Metal Products, Chemical Products, Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages
Syria

15.9

Food & Beverages, Vegetable Products, Mineral Products, Plastics
KSA

6.1

Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages, Pulp of Wood & Papers, Chemical Products
Egypt

5.1

Vegetable Products, Pulp of Wood & Papers, Mineral Products, Plastics
Kuwait 4.7 Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages, Chemical Products, Machinery & Electrical Equipments
UAE

4.4

Vegetable Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Pulp of Wood & Papers, Chemical Products
Iraq

3.9

Food & Beverages, Chemical Products, Pulp of Wood & Papers, Machinery & Electrical Equipment
Bangladesh

3.8

Chemical Products, Machinery & Electrical Equipment

Source: Lebanese Customs

The top trade import partners during 2017 were USA with 23.6% of total share, followed by Greece with 10.6%, Russia with 7.6%, Italy with 7.1%, as well as Spain with 6.2% and Ukraine with 4.5%. The largest suppliers of Lebanese products are European countries with 38.4% of total share of imports.

  

MAIN ORIGIN OF IMPORTS (% Share l 2017)

 

Country

% Share of
Total Imports

Top Imported Products

USA

23.6

Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Vehicles, Food & Beverages
Greece

10.6

Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages, Chemical Products
Russia

7.6

Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Food & Beverages
Italy

7.1

Mineral Products, Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages, Chemical Products
Spain 6.2 Mineral Products, Animal Products, Vegetable Products, Food & Beverages
Ukraine

4.5

Animal Products, Vegetable Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Food & Beverages
Turkey

3.3

Metal Products, Mineral Products, Articles of Stones, Food & Beverages
Egypt

3.2

Animal Products, Vegetables Products, Animal or Vegetable Oils, Food & Beverages

Source: Lebanese 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 Trade 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 2017, the trade deficit in Lebanon increased by 28.98%, to register USD 20.3 Billion  due to a 23.6% increase in total imports.

 

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (USD Billion l 2010-2017)

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (USD Billion l 2010-2017)

Source: Higher Council of Customs

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