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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Lebanon strengthened its openness to international trade by signing an Association Agreement with the EU, working toward accession to the WTO and signing a free-trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in May 2004. Trade represents around 120% of the Lebanese GDP (2015).

Its three main export partners are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, South Africa, Iraq and Syria. Lebanon mainly exports minerals (gold), oil products, pharmaceutical products, textiles, tobacco, pearls & precious stones, electric & electronic equipment, salt, sulphur and machinery. Its main import partners are the EU (mainly Italy, France, Germany and Greece), China, USA and Russia. The country mainly imports mineral fuels, oil, vehicles, machinery, pearls & precious stones, electric and electronic equipment.

The trade balance is structurally in deficit, despite a surplus in the balance of services. Due to the war in Syria, which has had a negative impact on Lebanese exports and has raised transport costs and insurance expenses, the deficit has been deepening. The balance of trade deteriorated again in 2016 compared to 2015, the deficit increased by 4.1% and reached USD 15.7 billion. Imports increased by 3.5% whilst exports only slightly increased (0.8%) and even fell in volume. Exports weakened due to the lack of competitiveness of the Lebanese Pound.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 20,75021,94522,02421,13518,438
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,6645,6155,1704,5483,982
Imports of Services (million USD) 12,94411,42512,82812,501n/a
Exports of Services (million USD) 19,62114,48415,05113,725n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 0.50.8-1.2-1.51.2
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.0-4.8-0.53.2-2.3
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 64.277.171.269.465.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 36.256.556.957.557.0
Trade Balance (million USD) -13,919-14,831-15,173-15,063-13,159
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 100.4133.5128.0126.9121.9

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2016; World Bank - 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2014
Saudi Arabia 11.4%
United Arab Emirates 9.7%
South Africa 9.0%
Iraq 7.7%
Syria 7.3%
Turkey 4.4%
Jordan 3.9%
Qatar 2.8%
Switzerland 2.6%
Egypt 2.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2014
China 12.1%
Italy 8.0%
France 6.2%
Germany 6.1%
United States 6.0%
Russia 4.3%
Greece 4.0%
Turkey 3.4%
Belgium 2.9%
United Kingdom 2.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 

Main Products

3.3 bn USD of products exported in 2014
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 11.0%
Printed books, brochures and similar printed matter, whether or not in single sheets (excl. periodicals and publications which are essentially devoted to advertising) 3.4%
Electric generating sets and rotary converters 3.3%
Waste and scrap, of copper (excl. ingots or other similar unwrought shapes, of remelted copper waste and scrap, ashes and residues containing copper, and waste and scrap of primary cells, primary batteries and electric accumulators) 2.9%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 2.7%
Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of iron or steel (excl. slag, scale and other waste from the production of iron or steel; radioactive waste and scrap; fragments of pigs, blocks or other primary forms of pig iron or spiegeleisen) 2.6%
Mineral or chemical phosphatic fertilizers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg) 2.2%
Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture) 1.7%
Waters, incl. mineral waters and aerated waters, containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavoured, and other non-alcoholic beverages (excl. fruit or vegetable juices and milk) 1.7%
Refrigerators, freezers and other refrigerating or freezing equipment, electric or other; heat pumps; parts thereof (excl. air conditioning machines of heading 8415) 1.7%
20.5 bn USD of products imported in 2014
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 21.6%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 5.3%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.7%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 3.2%
Other bars and rods of alloy steel other than stainless, angles, shapes and sections of alloy steel other than stainless, n.e.s.; hollow drill bars and rods, of alloy or non-alloy steel 2.4%
Live bovine animals 1.7%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 1.1%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 1.1%
Cheese and curd 1.0%
Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes 0.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 
 
 

Main Services

15.7 bn USD of services exported in 2015
Travel
43.56%
Other business services
19.24%
Financial services
14.99%
Transportation
6.28%
Communications services
6.21%
Construction services
4.73%
Cultural and recreational services
2.17%
Government services
1.47%
Computer and information services
0.80%
Insurance services
0.42%
Royalties and license fees
0.15%
13.6 bn USD of services imported in 2015
Travel
34.98%
Other business services
18.96%
Transportation
15.62%
Financial services
11.95%
Communications services
5.84%
Construction services
3.85%
Insurance services
3.00%
Cultural and recreational services
2.62%
Government services
1.75%
Computer and information services
1.19%
Royalties and license fees
0.25%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Lebanese Pound (LBP)
Exchange Rate Regime
Free capital, interests and dividends transfers with no limitation or control.
Level of Currency Instability
There are no particular regulations concerning currency exchange.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Lebanese Pound (LBP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1,507.501,507.501,507.501,507.501,507.50

Source: World Bank - 2016.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Main International Economic Cooperation
Lebanon is a country traditionally open to trade. Its efforts are concentrated, from this point of view, on three areas: the European Union, the United States and the other Arab countries. It has signed a framework agreement with the United States to favor trade and investment between the two countries. It has been trying for many years to join the World Trade Organization and since 1999 has had observer status. Its relations with the European Union are privileged; there is an association agreement between the two entities, also called Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which provides especially for the creation of a free trade area between Lebanon (as part of the agreement) and the European Union by 2014. Lebanon is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area(GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area. It has signed numerous bilateral free trade agreements with Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq notably.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods sent to Lebanon must be complemented by the following documents:
- The Unique Administrative Document (UAD);
- The commercial invoice. It must be established in three copies written in french or in english. It must include the value and origin of the goods, its price and lot number.
- The manufacturing date and the use-by date;
- A phytosanitary certificate: compulsory for fruit, vegetable, seeds and other vegetable, it is issued by the regional service of vegetable protection;
- A sanitary certificate compulsory for meats issued by the departmental management of veterinarian services;
- The EUR1 form, to benefit from the preferential rate applicable to imported goods from the European Union;
- A certificate of free sale for pharmaceutical products, issued by the Ministry of Health;
- The transport documents and the packaging list.
Free Zones
For more information, visit the IDAL website (Investment Development Authority of Lebanon).
For Further Information
Lebanese Customs
Non Tariff Barriers
Less than 1% of imported products are subject to trade restrictions (license, technical, medical or phytosanitary certificates...) which can be similar to non tariff barriers. Importing some products, like arms for example, is forbidden in Lebanon even if they are only in transit. All these restrictions can be consulted on the website of the Lebanese Customs. In addition, Lebanon applies the boycott decided by the Arab League against Israeli products and some foreign companies may be blacklisted if they are thought to be helping the military development of that country. However, the boycott is relative since a considerable number of prohibited products can be found on the Lebanese market today.
Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
None, Lebanon is not member of the WTO.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Buy USA, Commercial advice guide of Lebanon

Learn more about How to Export to Lebanon on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
Lebanese Standards Institution
Integration in the International Standards Network
Standards are defined by the Lebanese Standards Institution Libnor. This institute is a member of the International Organization for Standardization ISO.
Obligation to Use Standards
Visit the Lebanese Standards Institution website, Libnor
Classification of Standards
Standards are presented in the following way: LN then EN if it is a national standard, if it is an ISO standard then ISO is written, then the number corresponding to the product's field, then the year of its adoption.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Visit the Lebanese Standards Institution website, Libnor
Online Consultation of Standards
They are accessible on the Libnor website but the article is under construction.
Certification Organisations
Libnor is also competent for certification.

 

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Last Updates: June 2017