Lebanon Profile 

Major Sectors in Economy

 

Contents  

Agriculture

Banking and Finance

Industry and Manufacturing

Tourism

Foreign Investment

Energy

Construction

Telecommunication

Trade

Transport

 

Agriculture

Approximately one-third of Lebanon’s land is cultivable, generally well watered and the most fertile areas are located along the coastal strip and in the Bekaa valley. The diversity of the topography and climate enables cultivation of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, industrial crops and cereals: olives, cane and beet sugar, potatoes, wheat, tobacco, and barley. In 1995, agriculture contributed approximately 12 per cent of GDP, as compared to approximately 9.9 per cent in 1972. Local wines, even those produced in times of war, have won international prizes.

The recent trend in activity is oriented towards fast moving consumer products and the agro-food industry. Under Plan Horizon 2000, efforts are now being channelled towards irrigation projects (increase the amount of irrigated land, through various dam and irrigation schemes, from 65,000 hectares to 125,000 hectares), systematic reforestation, expansion of the cultivated areas (FAO estimated that no less than 280,000 hectares of land in various parts of the country were reclaimable for agricultural production) and the promotion of pisciculture.

Livestock production (goats, sheep), which had made up a significant part of total agricultural production before the war, fell off drastically.

 

Related Links: 

Ministry of Agriculture

Green Plan

 

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Banking and Finance

Banking development started in 1948 when the government, unlike those of the surrounding countries, abolished exchange control and permitted non-residents to operate freely on the market. Banking secrecy laws, free exchange system and strong currency all served to attract regional and international financial institutions and customers. At the onset of the oil boom starting in the 1960s, Lebanon-based banks were the main recipients of the region’s petrodollars. Until the conflict in 1975, Beirut became the unrivalled financial centre in the Middle East. The banking system withstood the years of conflict well, survived by expanding overseas (where many subsidiaries of Lebanese-owned Banks are now operating) and by holding a larger portion of their balance sheets in US dollars. Since 1991 Lebanon witnessed an improved monetary and banking situation, and the Lebanese pound is stable. The banking system experienced unprecedented growth from 1992 to the present.

Now there are 76 government approved banks in the country, headed by the central banking institution, the Bank of Lebanon. Several major foreign and Arab Banks are established in Beirut and many of the Beirut-based ones have branches in other parts of the Middle East and further abroad.

Foreign currency may be bought and sold at any bank without restrictions. Another useful financial feature of Lebanon is the presence of innumerable moneychangers where currency transactions may be carried out as freely as the banks. Currency: 1 Lebanese pound (LL) = 100 piastres. Exchange rate: 1,507.00 Lebanese pounds (LL) per US$ 1.00

The Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) resumed trading in January 1996, after a 13-year interruption. Currently, the main financial services offered are commercial banking, investment banking and insurance. 

 

 

Related Links: 

Ministry of Finance

Banque du Liban (the Central Bank of Lebanon)

Association of Banks

Beirut Stock Exchange

 

 

Banks Websites

ABN-AMRO Bank

Al Baraka Bank Lebanon

Allied Business Bank

Al-Mawarid Bank

Arab Bank

Bank Audi 

Beirut Ryad Bank

Byblos Bank

Crèdit Bancaire

Crédit Libanais   

Banque Europeenne pour le Moyen-Orient

First National Bank

Fransabank

HSBC

Inaash Bank   

Jammal Trust Bank

Jordan Trust Bank   

Banque Du Liban Et D'Outre Mer   

Banque Libano-Française

Banque Misr

Banque National De Paris Intercontinentale

Saradar Bank 

Saudi Hollandi Bank

Société Générale   

United Bank Of Saudi And Lebanon

 

For a complete Listing of Banks operating in Lebanon (click here)  

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Industry and Manufacturing

Lebanon’s industrial base has traditionally been small-scale. Prior to the conflict in 175, the largest industrial employer was the food processing industry, followed by the well-developed textile industry. These tow industries combined to account for 44 percent of industrial output, with furniture and woodworking factories accounting for 29 percent, and mechanical industries accounting for seven percent. The remainder of industrial output was produced by the cement, ceramics, pharmaceutical, and plastic industries.

The civil war inflicted severe damage on the industrial sector in terms of human and capital resources. By 1985, one-fourth of the country’s productive capacity had been destroyed, with 600 to 700 factories closed; those that remained functioning did so at only a quarter of pre-war capacity.  However, in times of stability this sector has performed well. According to the General Directorate for Industry, 459 new industrial enterprises were established in 1996 – up from 408 in t1994 – employing nearly 3, 414 people and requiring the approximate investment of LL 101 billion ($65 million). The industrial sector reported a 3.7 percent increase for new factories in 1998 compared with the same period in 1996. Not surprisingly, the new factories reflect many of the same industries as were prevalent prior to 1975.

Related Links: 

Ministry of Industry

Ministry of Economy and Trade

Association of Lebanese Industrialists

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Beirut

 

 

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Tourism

Lebanon offers travellers a diverse range of activities, ranging from mountain skiing to swimming in the Mediterranean. Prior to its civil war, the country was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Arab world, and the sector contributed over 15 percent to Lebanon’s national income. Recently, the tourism industry has begun to rebound. The hotel industry in Lebanon has embarked on a restoration project valued at $500 million. Expected to return Beirut’s hotels to their former glory, the project aims to construct 18,000 rooms by the end of 2002.

Beirut International Airport  has been renovated for a new $387 million terminal and a 2.1 mile runway that extends into the sea. 

In the years since the war ended, most of the visitors that come to Lebanon are expatriates visiting their families. The thousands of Lebanese expatriates who return each summer give an important boost to the local economy. However, the government is still working to attract visitors from the rich Gulf Arab states and the West. In early 1997, the Ministry of Economy and Trade, along with the Ministry of Tourism, local merchants, hotels, and Middle East Airlines launched Lebanon’s first annual “shopping month.” This highly successful venture offered incentives for regional tourists to come to Lebanon for duty-free shopping and entertainment.

For viewing of the following historical and archeological sites:

Aanjar / Baalbek / Beirut / Beiteddine / Byblos / The Cedars / Eshmoun / Sidon / Tripoli / Tyre / Zahle, click at "Lebanon.com   / Tourism" and "Embassy of Lebanon, Washington D.C. / Tourism"

 

Related Links: 

Ministry of Tourism

Lebanon.com / Tourism

Middle East Airlines (MEA) 

Baalbeck International Festival

Beit Eddine Festival

l'Agenda Culturel 

  

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Foreign Investment

Lebanon offers one of the most liberal investment climates in the Middle East.  It has traditionally enjoyed a free-market economy and a laissez-faire commercial tradition. In order to fund the reconstruction programs, the Lebanese government offers incentives to attract foreign and domestic investment, including low income tax rates for individuals and corporations. The distribution of dividends has a maximum of ten percent for corporations and five percent for individuals. In addition, some contracts, such as the toll road and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) re-gasification plant, are to be carried out on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The government is seriously considering privatization of some public entities in order to attract private sector investment. To date, the government has also issued $950 million of eurobond subscriptions in local and international markets.

Lebanon does not discriminate between Lebanese nationals and foreign investors, except in the case of real estate investment. There are no restrictions on the movement of capital gains, remittances, or dividends. Likewise, there are no restrictions on the conversion of foreign currency or precious metals, foreign exchange, or capital movements.

“Lebanon: Invest In The Future (From an Article in ‘Business Opportunities’ Magazine)

At the heart of the Middle East and the crossroads of three continents, Lebanon is where the East meets the West.

A convergence point of trade routes for thousands of years and a unique cultural and religious melting pot, The Land of the Alphabet is rising again as a regional and international hub for trade, finance, services, culture, and tourism.

With a stable political system based on a parliamentary democracy, and unique characteristics that are inherent to the Lebanese system, Lebanon offers an ideal business environment for discerning investors.

In addition to a free-market economy based on a long tradition of government-supported liberalism, a sophisticated banking system, a developed legal framework, a superbly skilled workforce, and an exceptional lifestyle, Lebanon offers a large number of investment opportunities in all sectors of the Lebanese national economy.

IDAL, the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, is the sole public agency responsible for promoting investments in Lebanon, identifying and marketing opportunities, guiding international companies to establish prime business positions, and assisting investors in accessing a wealth of untapped economic potential. When investing in Lebanon, let IDAL pave your way.

Why Lebanon ?

* Strategic Geographical Location: At the Center of the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

* Free Market Economy: Based on a long tradition of liberal investment policies, free enterprise and private initiative are the drivers of the Lebanese economy.

* Liberal Financial Environment: With a free foreign exchange market, full currency convertibility policies, no restrictions on the inward or outward movement of capital, and banking secrecy, Lebanon is truly ideal for conducting business.

* Developed and Non-Discriminatory Legal Framework: Lebanon offers a well-developed legal framework that protects private property and grants Lebanese and Non-Lebanese equal rights.

* Untapped Investment Opportunities: Lebanon offers investors a wide array of investment opportunities in all sectors of the economy. Furthermore, Lebanon represents a point of entry to a large regional market.

* Moderate Tax Rates: With maximum tax rates of 15% for companies and 20% for individuals, Lebanon’s fiscal charges are among the most moderate worldwide.

* Qualified and Competitive Workforce: Lebanon’s workforce is well educated and multi-talented. Skilled labor is widely available, yet at moderate fees.

* New and Expanding Infrastructure: With state-of-the-art telecommunications, a modern electricity network, a new airport, expanding port facilities, and an ambitious road rehabilitation program, Lebanon’s infrastructure is quickly becoming one of the best in the region.

* Unique Living Environment: Thousands of years of history, optimal climatic conditions, a very rich culture, and a vibrant nightlife justify Lebanon’s “Pearl of the East” surname.

* Facilities and services for Investors: IDAL’s “One-Stop-Shop” Service offers investors a fast and seamless way to obtain the official permits and licenses needed to implement their projects.”

 Related Links: 

Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL)

  

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Energy

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Construction

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Telecommunications

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Trade

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Transport

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