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flag Lebanon Lebanon: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline

 

Economic Indicators

Lebanon has a free-market economy with a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. Since the end of the long civil war (1975-90), Lebanon has implemented an extensive program of reconstruction of basic infrastructure and social and structural reforms have been initiated. The country has experienced a real boom, catching up where it fell behind due to the civil war and the 2006 war.  After reaching record levels between 2007 and 2010 (8% growth in average), the Lebanese economic growth slowed down sharply in 2011 due to internal political tensions and revolutions happening in the Middle East (especially Syria). The sectors driving growth (real estate, tourism, wholesale) were strongly affected. Growth was only 1.5% in 2013 and could decline further if the war in Syria continues.

Lebanon has been affected by the repercussions of the Syrian conflict and experienced a series of violent events and assasinations in 2013. The growing lack of security and political stability following the resignation of the Najib Mikati administration and the postponing of the election have had an effect on th economy. Public debt, which continues to grow, has reached 60 billion USD, i.e. nearly 155% of the GDP and the deficit stands at 11% of the GDP.  Tourism, which has suffered badly, has been on a constant decline, and trade and agricultural and industrial land exports have been equally badly affected. A massive inflow of Syrian refugees (20% of the country's population) has upset the demographic balance, shaken up the labour market and exerts pressure on rent costs, infrastructure and the supply of public services (water and electricity). The resilience of teh banking sector could also be affected. The budget for 2013, dominated by austerity measures, counted on the private sector and international grants as key sources of funding. The central bank has implemented an economic stimulus program and has invested $1.3b to revive borrowing. According to the finance minister Mohammed Safadi, a budget support of 2.6 billion USD over three-years will be necessary to deal with the impacts of the Syrian conflict.

Unemployment is officially estimated at 18% but in the absence of reliable statistics it could in reality reach 20-25%. There are significant social inequalities. Unemployment should double in 2014 due to the influx of Syrian refugees.

 
Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 40.0842.9645.02e47.50e50.82
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 2.02.51.5e1.8e2.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 9,1459,709e1010,53111,159
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -13.5-18.7-14.8-13.9e-15.0
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 133.9134.3141.0e144.9147.4
Inflation Rate (%) 7.25.93.2e3.5e4.0
Current Account (billions USD) -5.14-5.47e-5.80e-6.04-6.25
Current Account (in % of GDP) -12.8-12.7-12.9-12.7-12.3

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The banking sector is the pillar of the Lebanese economy and during the recent years it saw record profits. The sustained and lucrative banking activity does not however constitute a real support to the private sector because the majority of liquidity coming from banks is used to finance the national debt.

Lebanon also has a booming real estate sector, which benefits from the burst of the real estate bubble in Dubai. Demand coming from the Arab countries is indeed very high. Tourism represents 25% of jobs and 20% of the country's revenues. The sector was booming until a drop in the number of visitors in 2011 due to the instability in the Middle East.

Lebanon has fertile lands, however the agricultural sector is under-developed and only contributes up to 6% of the GDP.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 6.3 21.0 72.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 7.2 19.8 73.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) 7.0 3.7 0.2

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

 
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Lebanese Pound (LBP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1,507.501,507.501,507.501,507.501,507.50

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

 
 

Learn more about Market Analyses about Lebanon on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
59.4/100
Position:
Mostly Unfree
World Rank:
96/178
Regional Rank:
9/15

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Lebanon has strengthened its openness to international trade by signing an Association Agreement with the EU, by working toward accession to the WTO, and by signing a free-trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in May 2004. Trade represents around 145% of the Lebanese GDP (average 2009-2011).

Its three main export partners are Iraq, Switzerland, and Syria. Lebanon mainly exports pharmaceutical products, textiles, tobacco, pearls & precious stones, electric & electronic equipment, iron & steel, salt, sulfur and machinery. Its three main import partners are Italy, France and Germany. 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 balance of services. The deficit deepened in 2012 due to the war in Syria and a rise in transport costs and insurance expenses. In 2013, the trade deficit grew by 2.5% over 2012, reaching more than 17 billion USD as the Lebanese exports suffered the impact of the Syrian conflict.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 16,57418,46020,75021,94522,024
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,1875,0215,6645,6155,170
Imports of Services (million USD) 14,30113,11412,89422,059-
Exports of Services (million USD) 16,86915,83419,54922,059-
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 17.76.20.50.81.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.611.72.0-4.8-1.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 58.661.964.277.176.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.136.336.256.562.5
Trade Balance (million USD) -11,207-12,499-13,919-14,831-15,173
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -8,340-9,493-7,210-10,129-13,704
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 92.798.1100.4133.5138.7

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2013
Syria 13.3%
South Africa 10.1%
Saudi Arabia 8.8%
United Arab Emirates 8.4%
Iraq 6.9%
See More Countries 52.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2013
China 10.8%
Italy 8.4%
France 7.2%
United States 7.1%
Germany 5.9%
See More Countries 60.7%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
 

Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 14.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...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 7.6%
Waste and scrap, of copper (excl. ingots or other...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) 4.8%
Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of...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) 3.7%
Electric generating sets and rotary convertersElectric generating sets and rotary converters 3.5%
See More Products 66.3%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...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 22.0%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...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) 5.5%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...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) 4.4%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 4.0%
Other bars and rods of alloy steel other than...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 2.3%
See More Products 61.9%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)
 
 
 

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2012
55.27%
27.25%
8.29%
3.95%
1.64%
1.50%
0.79%
0.74%
0.36%
0.21%
0.01%
- bn USD of services imported in 2012
39.40%
32.01%
15.88%
3.04%
3.00%
2.21%
1.61%
1.43%
1.09%
0.17%
0.15%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Economy and Trade
Ministry of Finance
Statistical Office
Central Administration for Statistics
Central Bank
Central Bank of Lebannon
Stock Exchange
Beirut Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Al Mashriq
Lebanon Links
Libanis
Upgo
Economic Portals
An Nahar: the country's most important paper

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Political Outline

Executive Power
The President is the head of the state and is elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly and acts as the head of the government, to serve a four year term. Though the Prime Minister enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs, the President also holds a strong and influential position which includes promulgation of laws passed by parliament and ratification of treaties. The Cabinet is chosen by the Prime Minister in consultation with the President and members of the National Assembly. As per the constitution of the country, the President must be a Maronite Catholic Christian and the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Lebanon is unicameral. The parliament called National Assembly consists of 128 seats; with its members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation, with quotas according to religion,  to serve four-year terms. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The executive branch of the government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament nor can he veto its enactments. The Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shi'a Muslim.
Main Political Parties
Lebanon has numerous political parties, but they play a much less significant role in the country’s politics than they do in most parliamentary democracies. Coalitions usually exist only for contesting elections, and rarely form a cohesive bloc in the National Assembly after the election. Some of the major political parties in Lebanon are:

- The Future Movement – a political movement and a major political party in Lebanon;
- Progressive Socialist Party – ideologically secular and officially non-sectarian, but in practice follows the Druze faith;
- Hope Movement – advocates greater respect and resources for Lebanon's Shi'ite population;
- Party of God (Hezbollah) - Shi'a Islamist militant organization, supported by Iran;
- LF (Lebanese Forces) – a former militia but now a secular political party, supported mainly by Christians;
- The Lebanese Phalanges (Amine Gemayel);
- The National Liberal Party (Dory Chamoun);
- The Democratic Renewal Movement (Nassib Lahoud);
- The Movement of the Democratic Left (Atallah Elias);
- The Syrian Nationalist Social Party (Ali Qanso);
- The Free Patriotic Movement (Michel Aoun).
Current Political Leaders
President: Vacant
Head of government: Prime Minister Tamam SALAM (since 6 April 2013) - Independent
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
106/180
Evolution:
5 places down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Partly Free
Political Freedom:
5/7

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House

 

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Last Updates: October 2014