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Economy of Lebanon


Lebanon is a developing economy, with a private sector that contributes to 75% of aggregate demand and a large banking sector that supports this demand. The major industrial sectors include metal products, banking, agriculture, chemicals, and transport equipment. Lebanon has a competitive and free market regime and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital movement.

The Lebanese economy grew 8.5% in 2008 and a revised 9% in 2009 despite a global recession. Real GDP growth is estimated to have slowed from 7.5% in 2010 to 1.5% in 2011, according to IMF preliminary estimates, with nominal GDP estimated at $41.5 billion in 2011. The Banque du Liban projects real GDP growth could reach 4% in 2012, with 6% inflation (versus 4% in 2011). The political and security instability in the Arab world, especially in Syria, is expected to have a negative impact on the domestic business and economic environment.

Lebanon has a very high level of public debt and large external financing needs. The 2010 public debt exceeded 150.7% of GDP, ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, though down from 154.8% in 2009.

The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world. Remittances from Lebanese abroad total $8.2 billion and account for one fifth of the country's economy. Lebanon has the largest proportion of skilled labour among Arab States.

The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon was established with the aim of promoting investment in Lebanon. In 2001, The agricultural sector attracts only 12% of the total workforce. Agriculture contributed to 5.9% of the country's GDP in 2011. Lebanon's proportion of cultivable land is the highest in the Arab world, Major produce includes apples, peaches, oranges and lemons.

Oil has recently been discovered inland and in the seabed between Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and talks are underway between Cyprus and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources. The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.

Industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses that reassemble and package imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population, and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.

Nearly 65% of the Lebanese workforce attain employment in the services sector. The GDP contribution, accordingly, amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP. However, dependence on the tourism and banking sectors leaves the economy vulnerable to political instability. Lebanese banks are high on liquidity and reputed for their security. Lebanon was one of the only seven countries in the world in which the value of the stock markets increased in 2008.


Economy - overview : Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepôt and banking hub. Following the civil war Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks - saddling the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007 following the July 2006 war. The collapse of the government in early 2011 over its backing of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and unrest in neighbouring Syria slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-12, after four years of 8% average growth. In September 2011 the Cabinet endorsed a bill that would provide $1.2 billion in funding to improve Lebanon's downtrodden electricity sector, but fiscal limitations will test the government's ability to invest in other areas, such as water.
GDP (purchasing power parity) : $63.69 billion (2012 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate) : $41.77 billion (2012 est.)
GDP - real growth rate : 2% (2012 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP) : $15,900 (2012 est.)
GDP - composition by sector : agriculture: 4.6%
industry: 19.7%
services: 75.8% (2012 est.)
Labour force : 1.481 million
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2007 est.)
Labour force - by occupation : agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate : NA%
Population below poverty line : 28% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share : lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed) : 34% of GDP (2012 est.)
Budget : revenues: $9.317 billion
expenditures: $12.57 billion (2012 est.)
Taxes and other revenues : 22.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) : -7.8% of GDP (2012 est.)
Public debt : 127.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover central government debt, and exclude debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by sub-national entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment
Inflation rate (consumer prices) : 5.5% (2012 est.)
Central bank discount rate : 3.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate : 7.3% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money : $4.397 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money : $97.04 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of domestic credit : $73.83 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares : $10.16 billion (31 December 2011)
Agriculture - products : citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industries : banking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewellery, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
Industrial production growth rate : 2.1% (2010 est.)
Electricity - production : 12.98 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - consumption : 12.34 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - exports : 0 kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity - imports : 1.155 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Crude Oil - production : 0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Crude Oil - exports : 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Crude Oil - imports : 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Crude Oil - proved reserves : 0 bbl (1 January 2012 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production : 0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption : 106,700 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports : 0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports : 102,300 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Natural gas - production : 0 cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas - consumption : 0 cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas - exports : 0 cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas - imports : 0 cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves : 0 cu m (1 January 2012 est.)
Current account balance : -$7.85 billion (2012 est.)
Exports : $5.655 billion (2012 est.)
Exports - commodities : jewellery, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners : UAE 13.1%, Iraq 8.4%, Saudi Arabia 7.7%, Turkey 7%, Syria 6.7%, Switzerland 5.5% (2011)
Imports : $20.73 billion (2012 est.)
Imports - commodities : petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners : US 10.2%, Italy 9.3%, France 8.8%, China 8.2%, Egypt 5.3%, Germany 5.1%, Turkey 4% (2011)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold : $51.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Debt - external : $32.64 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home : $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - at abroad : $NA
Exchange rates : Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2012 est.); 1,507.5 (2011 est.); 1,507.5 (2010 est.); 1,507.5 (2009); 1,507.5 (2008)
Fiscal year : calendar year




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