‘Real' imports grew to $14.3 billion in 2017, up four percent from the year before, according to the Customs.
‘Real' imports exclude pearls and precious stones, as well as mineral (oil) products.
The trade deficit, which includes all products, reached $12 billion, up four percent compared to 2016.
Imports of vegetable products have gone up (13 percent), to $980 million. This is mainly due to an increase in demand for cereals. Naim Khalil, Chairman of the Syndicate of Importers and Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables, said that imports of fruits and vegetables are almost the same as in 2016.
Imports of chemicals, wood, and footwear have gone down.
The United States has replaced China as the top exporter to the local market, with $1 billion worth of products, in addition to $3 billion in oil products. Aurore Feghali, Chairperson of the Petroleum Directorate at the Ministry of Energy and Water, said: "The oil bill has increased because the price of oil barrel averaged $27 per barrel in 2016. It is now at $55."
The private sector imports heavy fuel oil and lubricants from the U.S.
China, which comes in second place with $1.8 billion, retains the top spot when excluding oil products.
Top exporters to the local market in 2017
Source: Higher Customs Council
*Total includes pearls and precious stones, and mineral products