Beirut to become a major shipping hub in the ME

Published October 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

In the recent years, many major developments have been going underway in the Port of Beirut. One of the oldest in the Middle East, the port of Beirut is a major transportation route in Lebanon. 


The volume of traffic going through the port of Beirut has been stable in the past couple of years. Goods are mainly coming from Europe and the Far East, exports are mostly going to the Gulf, Europe and the US.  


As per Reem Anchassi from the Lebanon Opportunities magazine, “Lebanon imports almost ten times the amount it exports”, which leads him to believe that traders must take advantage of this situation because shipping companies offer discounts to exporters that use empty containers 


Competition to the port of Beirut comes not only from other countries, closer to the Suez Canal and offering 30% cheaper port fees, but also from smaller ports in Lebanon itself, where the charges are lower but infrastructure isn’t always existent. 


On the other hand, a lot of advantages tend to lead to the use of the port of Beirut. Lebanese rates are less expensive than these of countries like Syria or Turkey. It costs almost half to export a container from Beirut than to import it from any major port in the world, except from NYC. 

To be able to become a major player in the Middle East maritime trade, the port of Beirut must become a transshipments port (a hub) and in order to achieve this goal it faces a couple of issues that needs to be resolved. The increasing bureaucracy and a weak internal market are the two major issues. In addition, transshipment ports should be on the trade route, which is not the case of Beirut. Solutions are being discussed by the Lebanese Chamber of Navigation, which proposes new Customs regulations. Some companies have proposed to extend the Lebanese shipping fleet. Expansion of the port and modernization of infrastructures are also underway. –(Albawaba-MEBG) 


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