Syrian conflict continues to take a toll on Lebanese exports
Total Lebanese exports, including industrial items, average about $3 billion a year. (Shutterstock)
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The high cost of transportation, fierce competition and the economic slowdown in some Arab countries have led to a further drop in Lebanese industrial exports, Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said Friday.
The Industry Ministry said Friday that industrial exports in the first eight months of 2016 fell to $1.713 billion, a 14.7 percent drop from the same period of 2015 and a 19.2 percent drop from the 2014 period.
“There are several reasons behind the drop in our industrial exports. Among these reasons are the high cost of transportation, fierce competition and the economic slowdown in some of the Arab states that were the main recipients of our locally manufactured goods,” Hajj Hasan told The Daily Star.
The 5-year-old war in Syria has denied easy access for Lebanese-made goods to many Arab countries like Iraq and the Gulf states.
Most of the industrial exports to these states were shipped by trucks through Syria.
To circumvent Syrian territories, Lebanese manufacturers have been compelled to transport goods by sea, adding an additional cost burden for industrialists.
Hajj Hasan said Lebanese industrialists can’t compete with countries that subsidize their industries and provide them with easy access to other markets in the region.
The minister argued that some of the countries that claim to have free markets protect their industries and impose strict conditions and terms on the import of goods from Lebanon.
“We have been calling for a full revision of the trade agreements with many countries that failed to respect the conditions of these accords. Why should the Lebanese industrial sector pay the price of these mistakes?” he added.
The minister revealed that he will present a comprehensive plan Tuesday to improve Lebanese exports to Europe. “A high-ranking EU delegation is expected to discuss with me the terms of trade with Lebanon Tuesday. I will submit the plan to the delegation for consideration. They must accept the terms of the plan to help increase Lebanese exports,” Hajj Hasan said.
The Industry Ministry report also said that average monthly industrial exports during the first eight months of the year stood at $214.1 million per month compared to $250.9 million in 2015 and $264.9 million in 2014.
Total Lebanese exports, including industrial items, average about $3 billion a year.
This figure is very low compared to other regional countries.
The report added that industrial imports to Lebanon in the first eight months of this year also fell by 4.9 percent to $166.9 million compared to $175.5 million in 2015 and $193.2 million in 2014.
It said that industrial chemicals topped the list of the Lebanese exports in the month of August 2016 and Bangladesh was the leading importer of this product.
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