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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 AND EXPORTS

IMPORTS

 

In 2018, Lebanese imports reached a value of USD 19.9 billion up from USD 19.5 billion in 2017. Major imports in 2018 included Mineral products (20.9% of total imports), Machinery and Electrical equipment (11.6%), Chemical Products (11.1%), Vehicles and other transportation equipment (8.3%), Food & Beverage (6.7%), Metal Products (6.3%) and Pearls, precious stones and metals (6.3%).

 

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 and metals (22% of total exports), Food & Beverages (13%), Metal products (12.9%), Chemical Products (12.3%), Machinery and Electrical equipment (10.9%), and Vegetable Products (6.2%).

 

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 15.5% of total exports, KSA with 7.2%, followed by Syria with 7%, and South Africa with 5.9%. Middle Eastern countries continue to be the main export markets, receiving more than 53% 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

15.5

Pearls and Precious Stones; Chemical Products; Food and Beverages; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Vegetable Products
KSA

7.2

Food & Beverages; Chemical Products; Vegetable Products; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Plastics
Syria

7

Plastics; Vegetable Products; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Chemical Products; Food and Beverages
South Africa

5.9

Pearls and Precious Stones; Vegetable Products; Pulp of Wood; Plastics; Machinery and Electrical Equipment
Iraq 5 Chemical Products; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Food and Beverages; Pulp of wood; Plastics
Qatar

4.5

Food and Beverages; Vegetable Products; Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Chemical Products
Switzerland

4.4

Pearls and Precious Stones; Works of Arts; Textiles; Food and Beverages; Pulp of Wood
Turkey

4.3

Metal Products; Chemical Products; Vegetable Products; Food and Beverages; Machinery and Electrical Equipment

Source: Lebanese Customs

The top trade import partners during 2018 were China with 10.3% of total share, followed by Greece with 8.5%, Italy with 8%, USA with 7.2%, as well as Germany with 5.8% and Turkey with 4.7%. The largest suppliers of Lebanese products are European countries with 41.6% of total share of imports.

  

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

 

Country

%

Top Imported Products

China

10.3

Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Textiles; Metal Products; Miscellaneous Manufactures Articles; Plastics
Greece

8.5

Mineral Products, Chemical Products; Metal Products; Food and Beverages; Machinery and Electrical Equipment
Italy

8

Mineral Products, Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Chemical Products; Pearls and Precious Stones; Metal Products
USA

7.2

Mineral Products, Vehicles and Other Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Optical Equipment
Germany 5.8 Vehicles and Other Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Food and Beverages; Optical Equipment
Turkey

4.7

Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Metal Products; Textiles; Food and Beverages; Plastics
France

3.5

Chemical Products; Food and Beverages; Livestock; Machinery and Electrical Equipment; Mineral Products
UAE

2.9

Pearls and Precious Stones; Metal Products; Chemical Products; Food and Beverages; Mineral Products

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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