Lebanon’s external sector witnessed a net decline in the trade deficit by 17.7 percent in January 2019 compared to January 2018, moving from $1.4 billion to $1.2 billion, according to the latest trade statistics released by Lebanon’s Customs Authority.
The report was published by Bank Audi’s Lebanon Weekly Monitor Monday.
“This drop in trade deficit was the result of retreating imports by 17.5 percent and declining exports by 16.6 percent over the first month of this year,” the report said.
“Accordingly, the sum of exports and imports went down by 17.4 percent to reach $1.6 billion over the period, while the exports-to-imports ratio reached 16.8 percent in January 2019, almost unchanged from January 2018 level.”
It added that the balance of payments recorded a rising deficit of $1.4 billion in January, despite the drop in the trade deficit, as it was impacted by weakening inflows prior to Cabinet formation.
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Imports were at $1.4 billion in January 2019, compared to $1.7 billion over the same month the previous year. “The breakdown of imports by major product suggests that almost all products witnessed a decline over the period when compared to January 2018,” Bank Audi said.
The items displaying the most significant retreat were jewelry with 41.6 percent, followed by metals and metal products with 40.0 percent, electrical equipment with 24.7 percent, livestock and animal products with 22.9 percent, textiles and textile products with 21.7 percent and transport vehicles with 16.8 percent.
“The breakdown of imports by country of origin in the first month of the year shows that most of the inward merchandise came from China with 11.0 percent of total imports, followed by Italy with 7.7 percent, Greece with 7.0 percent, Germany with 6.2 percent, USA with 5.4 percent, Russia with 4.8 percent, Turkey with 4.3 percent and UAE with 3.6 percent of total imports over the period,” the report said.
It added that total exports reached $236 million in the first month of 2019, down from $283 million in the first month of 2018.
Exports through Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport plummeted by 22.1 percent, while those through the Port of Beirut witnessed a decline of 13.0 percent over the same period, the report said. Land exports through Syria went up by 75.0 percent, from $12 million to $21 million, “supported by the gradual reopening of trade routes through conflict countries in the region,” it added.
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