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Lebanon

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Summary

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, 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 all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. In the years since, Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the Rafiq HARIRI government in 2000 began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and passing legislation to privatize state enterprises, but economic and financial reform initiatives stalled and public debt continued to grow despite receipt of more than $2 billion in bilateral assistance at the 2002 Paris II Donors Conference. The Israeli-Hizballah conflict in July-August 2006 caused an estimated $3.6 billion in infrastructure damage, and prompted international donors to pledge nearly $1 billion in recovery and reconstruction assistance. Donors met again in January 2007 at the Paris III Donor Conference and pledged more than $7.5 billion to Lebanon for development projects and budget support, conditioned on progress on Beirut's fiscal reform and privatization program. An 18-month political stalemate and sporadic sectarian and political violence hampered economic activity, particularly tourism, retail sales, and investment, until the new government was formed in July 2008. Political stability following the Doha Accord of May 2008 helped boost tourism and, together with a strong banking sector, enabled real GDP growth of 7% per year in 2009-10 despite a slowdown in the region

Central bank

Central Bank of Lebanon

International Reserves

US$ 44.476 billion (Source: World Bank; Data updated: November 2010)

Gross Domestic Product - GDP

US$ 42.539 billion (2009 estimate)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity)

61.581 billion of International dollars (2009 estimate)

Real GDP growth

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

1.7%

4%

3.4%

3.2%

7.5%

1%

0.6%

7.5%

2008

2009

2010

2011*

9.3%

8.5%

7.5%

2.5%

*Estimate

GDP per capita - current prices

US$ 10,747 (2008 estimate)

GDP per capita - PPP

$15,557 International Dollars (2008 estimate)

GDP (PPP) - share of world total

1980

1990

2000

2010

2015**

0.12%

0.05%

0.07%

0.08%

0.08%

**Forecast

GDP - composition by sector

  • agriculture: 5.4%
  • industry: 16.7%
  • services: 77.9% (2009 estimate)
  • (Data released on November 2010)

Gross domestic expenditure on R&D (% of GDP)

N/A

(Data released on November 2010)

Inflation

2008

2009

2010

2011*

10.8%

1.2%

4.5%

6.5%

*Estimate

Unemployment rate

2008

2009

2010

2011*

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

*Estimate

Household saving rates

N/A

(Data released on November 2010)

Public debt (General government gross debt as a % of GDP)

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011*

167.8%

157.1%

146.4%

136.7%

133.8%

*Estimate

Public deficit (General government net lending/borrowing as a % of GDP)

2007

2008

2009

2010*

2011**

-10.8%

-9.6%

-8.1%

-8.7%

-9.6%

*Estimate   **Forecast

Government bond ratings

Standard & Poor's: B/Positive/B

Moody's rating: B1

Moody's outlook: STA

(Foreign Currency Government Bond Ratings; Data last updated Nov 2010)

Market value of publicly traded shares

2007

2008

2009

US$10.858 billion

US$9.641 billion

US$12.893 billion

Largest companies in Lebanon

Bank Audi (Regional Banks), Blom Bank (Regional Banks)

(2011)

Current account balance

US$ -5.5 billion (2009 estimate)

Current account balance by percentage of GDP

-12.9% of GDP (2009 estimate)

Exports as percent of GDP

(Exports of goods and services)

25.5% (2009)

(Data released on December 2010)

Shares in world total merchandising export

0.03%

(Data were released in Nov 2011 and refer to 2010)

Shares in world total commercial services export

0.41%

(Data were released in Nov 2011 and refer to 2010)

Total exports

US$5.187 billion f.o.b. (2010 estimate)

Export commodities

jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper

Total imports

US$16.1 billion f.o.b. (2008 estimate)

Import commodities

petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals

Exports - major partners

Syria 25.2%, UAE 11.8%, Switzerland 8.2%, Saudi Arabia 5.6% (2007)

Imports - major partners

Syria 12.1%, Italy 8.5%, France 8.3%, US 7%, China 5.9%, Germany 5.3%, Saudi Arabia 4.8% (2007)

Best countries for doing business

World Bank/IFC Doing Business Project

(Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1 – 183. A high ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm.)

Overall ranking: 113 out of 183 countries (2010)

Subcategories:

Starting a business: 103 out of 183 countries

Registering property: 111 out of 183 countries

Paying Taxes: 36 out of 183 countries

Getting credit: 89 out of 183 countries

Protecting investors: 93 out of 183 countries

Trading across border: 95 out of 183 countries

Enforcing Contracts: 122 out of 183 countries

(2010)

Global competitiveness ranking

(ranking by country on a basis of 142, the first is the best)

89

(2011/2012)

Index of Economic Freedom

WSJ and Heritage Foundation

Ranking: 89 Score: 60.1 (Moderately Free) (2009)

(100=totally free 0=totally repressed )

Contact

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