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Lebanon at a Glance
Trade Performance

Lebanon’s Balance of Payments (BoP) registered a notable deficit of USD 4.8 billion in 2018, compared to USD 156 million in 2017. The BoP deficit was driven by a USD 2.5 billion decline in banks’ net foreign assets, along with a USD 2.3 billion decline in the Central Bank of Lebanon’s net foreign assets. Along the same lines, Lebanon’s trade deficit reached USD 17 billion by the end of 2018, a slight increase compared to USD 16.7 billion reached in 2017.

 

Source: Bank Audi and Bank Byblos

IMPORTS AND EXPORTS

IMPORTS

 

In 2018, Lebanese imports reached a value of USD 19.9 billion up from USD 19.6 billion in 2017. Major imports in 2018 included mineral products (21% of total imports), machinery & electrical equipments (12%), chemical products (11%),  agri-food products (9%), vehicles & other transportation equipments (8%), metal products (6%) and pearls, precious stones & metals (6%).

 

IMPORT COMPOSITION (% Share | 2018)

IMPORT COMPOSITION (% Share | 2018)

Source: Lebanese  Customs


EXPORTS


In 2018, Lebanese exports reached 2.9 billion compared to USD 2.8 billion in 2017. Major exports included pearls, precious stones & metals (22% of total exports),  agri-food products (15%), metal products (12.9%), chemical products (12%), machinery & electrical equipments (11%), and Vegetable products (6%).

 

EXPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2018)

EXPORT COMPOSITION (% Share l 2018)

Source: Lebanese  Customs

TRADE PARTNERS

Top trade export partners in 2018 were the UAE with 15% of total exports, KSA (7%), followed by Syria (7%), South Africa (6%) and Iraq (5%). Middle Eastern countries continue to be the main export markets, receiving around 54% of total Lebanese exports. These exports were valued at USD 1.58 billion in 2018.

European Union countries follow, and account for 13% 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 of Total Exports | 2018)

 

Country

%  

Top Exported Products

UAE

15  

Pearls & Precious Stones; Chemical products; Agri-food products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Vegetable products
KSA

7

Agri-food products; Chemical products; Vegetable products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Plastics
Syria

7

Plastics; Vegetable products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Chemical products; Agri-food products
South Africa

6

Pearls & Precious Stones; Vegetable products; Paper and printed matters; Plastics; Machinery & Electrical equipments
Iraq

5

Chemical products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Agri-food products; Paper and Printed matters; Plastics

Source: Lebanese Customs

Top trade import partners in 2018 were China with 10% of total share, followed by Greece (9%), Italy (8%), USA (7%) and Germany (6%). The largest suppliers of Lebanese products are European countries with 42% of total share of imports.

  

MAIN ORIGIN OF IMPORTS (% Share of Total Imports | 2018)

 

Country

%  

Top Imported Products

China

10  

Machinery & Electrical equipments; Textiles; Metal products; Miscellaneous Manufactures articles; Plastics
Greece

9

Mineral products, Chemical products; Metal products; Agri-food products; Machinery & Electrical equipments
Italy

8

Mineral products, Machinery & Electrical equipments; Chemical products; Pearls & Precious Stones; Metal products
USA

7

Mineral products, Vehicles & other Transportation equipments; Chemical products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Optical, Medical and Musical equipments
Germany

6

Vehicles & other Transportation equipments; Chemical products; Machinery & Electrical equipments; Agri-food products; Optical, Medical and Musical equipments

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 2018, the trade deficit in Lebanon increased by 1.7%, to register USD 17 Billion due to a 2% increase in total imports.

 

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (USD Billion | 2010-2018)

LEBANON’S TRADE BALANCE (USD Billion | 2010-2018)

Source: Lebanese Customs

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