Industrial and agricultural ‘real' exports increased four percent last year, compared to 2016, registering at $2.2 billion, according to figures published by Customs.
The ‘Real' export figures exclude pearls and precious stones, which registered $586 million compared to $828 million last year. They also exclude mineral products (mostly oil products, mainly re-exported to Syria), which increased to $48 million from $19 million in the previous year.
Exports increased 15 percent in terms of weight, registering 1.9 million tons in 2017.
Exports dropped 14 percent in 2016, compared to 2015.
Total exports, including pearls, precious stones and mineral products, dropped four percent.
Mounir Bissat, Chairman of the Industrial Exports Development Council at the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, said: "It's good that we are still able to break even in light of several changes in the region, which is mainly Iraq's decision to quit the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA), and the currency devaluation in Egypt." Exports to Iraq increased seven percent this year reaching $172 million, and exports to Egypt increased 17 percent last year, reaching $68 million.
Exports to Syria increased 24 percent reaching $246 million, and exports to Kuwait increased 23 percent reaching $92 million.
Bissat said that there is recession in the Gulf economy and this is influencing our exports. Exports to Saudi Arabia dropped nine percent reaching $243 million last year.
Exports of prepared foodstuffs and beverages increased four percent to reach $458 million. The value of exports in tons remained stable at 300,000 tons.
Exports of chemical products increased five percent to $320 million. Plastic materials increased 12 percent reaching $149 million. Machinery and electrical instruments reached $317 million during 2017, decreasing by five percent.
Bissat said that if the government supported the energy costs and transportation with $100 million, exports would definitely increase.
Agricultural exports decreased three percent to reach $197 million last year.
UAE topped the list of agricultural exports, followed by Saudi Arabia, and Syria.