Lebanon must improve trade deficit

26 May 2015

Lebanon must find ways to improve trade deficit with exports declining by 25 per cent since 2011

  • 25 per cent decline in exports since 2011
  • Growing pressures because of 1.5 million Syrian refugees

Lebanon’s trade deficit could prove problematic in the coming years as Syrian refugees continue to put pressure on the imports, says Marwan Barakat, group chief economist and head of research at the local Bank Audi.

Lebanon suffers from a twin deficit, with its fiscal deficit sitting at 8 per cent of GDP and the trade deficit making up 35 per cent of GDP, according to a quarterly report produced by the local Bank Audi.

Since 2011 Lebanon has seen a 25 per cent decline in exports caused by the instability in the region. This has also come at a time of increased domestic consumption and the growing pressures of 1.5 million Syrian refugees currently living in the country.

While the government has little control over what seems to be a perpetual war in Syria, it is clear the domestic landscape must improve and provide the legislative stability needed for medium to long-term economic growth.

Despite having a functioning cabinet, which has revealed it will announce a government budget for the first time in over 10 years, Beirut’s failure for the 22nd time to elect a replacement for former president Michel Suleiman, whose term ended on 25 May 2014 is preventing much needed political stability.

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