Lebanon Businessnews News

‘Levant Business Forum’ sees light
Private sectors in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Syria join hands to promote economic ties
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The Levant Business Forum (LBF) saw light last week after a year of deliberations lead by businessmen from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey.

Beirut was chosen to host the forum’s headquarters. Member of the board of the Lebanese International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Anthony Ghorayeb, was elected as Secretary General of the forum for a four-year term. The General Secretariat will be rotated among the four member countries.

The LBF’s founding members are the Turkish-Jordanian Business Council, the Turkish-Lebanese Business Council, and the Turkish-Syrian Business Council.

The forum was created with the mission of escorting the governments of the four states throughout the process of reforming the laws in accordance with the free trade agreements between them.

Lebanon signed a free trade agreement with Syria and Jordan in 1998, which was effected in 2002. Another agreement was reached with Turkey in November 2010, but still hasn’t been ratified by the parliament.

According to a statement issued by Ghorayeb, the LBF’s statute was adopted in Damascus in March 2011. He said that the forum’s founding manifesto stated that its objective is to promote regional economic integration by encouraging networking within business sectors, and harmonizing trade and customs legislations.

The president of the ICC in Lebanon, Wajih Bizri, said that the free trade zone would create a huge market of 120 million consumers.

Bizri, who will chair the LBF in the country, said that the Lebanese businessmen delegation have put much effort to have the forum based in the country. He said that they finally managed to convince the representatives of the other three countries with the efficiency of having the forum headquartered in Beirut.

According to Bizri, Lebanon would be offering its expertise mainly in the sectors of banking, education, and health. He said that Turkish businessmen welcomed a proposal to form joint ventures with Lebanese firms. He also said that plans are underway for establishing “franchises” of local universities in Turkey, Jordan, and Syria.

Bizri said that the forum will be funded by the private sectors in the member countries. “Being the headquarters of the LBF, Lebanon would have additional expenses, but the benefits exceed the costs by far,” he said.
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Date Posted: Aug 24, 2011