The country enjoys a free-market economy, although US ratings agency Moody’s recently downgraded its B1 standing from stable to negative. In 2001, the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) was established to encourage investment in the country, offering tax breaks and a series of exemptions to companies upon both set-up and operation. Foreign investment is not restricted and the economy’s main areas of strength include banking and tourism. The average time taken to start a business in the country is nine days, according to IDAL.

In recent years, the National Investment Law of 2001 has been upgraded, making trading conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises more appealing. Lebanon’s economy has been struggling in the past couple of years, with gross domestic product growth of just 1.5 per cent. The conflicting in neighbouring Syria is hurting the economy, denting investor sentiment. In the longer term, oil and gas discoveries give reason for optimism, however. Lebanon’s economy is only the 91st freest in the world, according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom from US think tank The Heritage Foundation.

The country currently operates one main free zone, the Logistics Free Zone, which is run by the Port of Beirut (POB). Established in 1995, the zone offers 100 per cent foreign ownership and customs exemptions. The port covers 1.2 million square metres, of which 11,200 sq m comprises the free zone. In 2007, POB opened the logistics free zone area to accommodate companies that operate in transport, transit, export, logistics and international trade.

Tripoli port, in the north of the country, stretches over 320,000 sq m, with a further 420,000 sq m allocated for a future zone, including a container berth and a free economic zone.

In 2012, IDAL launched a specialised economic zone pilot project in Tripoli. This zone comprises 55 warehouses and 46 yards, catering to import, export and re-export. Lebanon is also planning two new free zones in the north, at Selaata and Qlaiaat, although information about progress is scarce.

Fast facts

  • Nine days is the average time it takes to set up a company in Lebanon.
  • The country’s gross domestic product stands at $55.5bn.
  • The extended free zone in Tripoli will cover 420,000 square metres.
  • Lebanon is ranked 91st in the list of the world’s most open economies.

Free zone list

Click on the free zone name for more details

Port of Beirut Logistics Free Zone

Tripoli Port

Port of Beirut Logistics Free Zone (LFZ)

Inaugurated in July 2007 at Beirut port, the LFZ was Lebanon’s first free zone. The port was revamped in the early 1990s to include four docks, a further two quays and a new container terminal, which became operational in 2005.

Facilities

The port covers 1.2 million sq m, of which 11,200 sq m is occupied by the free trade zone. The container terminal has a capacity of 700,000 20-foot equivalent units a year. It is equipped with five ship-to-shore gantry cranes, with an outreach of 60 metres each, and 10 rubber-tyre gantry cranes.

The port handles approximately 6 million tonnes of cargo annually, representing about 55 per cent of all imports to Beirut and 60 per cent of exports. Another 20 per cent of incoming and out-going trade is handled by Beirut airport. The duty-free market area in the LFZ comprises modular shops. There are three industrial buildings covering 32,400 sq m and 52 warehouses, each built on about 200 sq m of space.

Benefits

  • 100 per cent foreign ownership
  • Customs exemptions on import and export from the zone
  • Long-term, low-cost land and building leases
  • Low-cost utilities

Industries

  • Transport
  • Transit
  • Import, export and repacking
  • International trade

LFZ Costs

  • Warehouse rental: From $5,000 a year for 70 sq m
  • Courtyard rental: From $20/sq m a year

Tripoli Port

Tripoli port currently runs a free zone comprising 55 warehouses and 46 yards, built across 151,750 sq m. The space is mainly used for storage. A further 420,000 sq m has been allocated for a larger zone in the future. 

Benefits

  • Customs tax exemption

Industries

  • Import, export and re-export

Key contacts

Investment Development Authority of Lebanon

Lazarieh Tower, 4th Floor,

Emir Bechir Street, Riad el-Solh

Beirut, Lebanon,

PO Box 113-7251

Tel: (+961) 1 983 306

Fax: (+961) 1 983 302/3

Email: invest@idal.com.lb

export@idal.com.lb

Web: www.idal.com.lb

Beirut Port

Quarantaine Region

PO Box 1490 – Beirut, Lebanon

Tel: (+961) 1 580 211

Fax: (+961) 1 585 835

Email: gepb@portdebeyrouth.com

Web: www.portdebeyrouth.com

Tripoli Port

Tel: (+961) 6 600 413/ 621 1775

Fax: (+961) 6 220 180

Email: admin@portdetripoli.com

Web: www.portdetripoli.com

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