in the first half of 2015
Banks, tourism, and transportation
are among the top performers
Most economic indicators rose in the first half of the year, when compared to the same period in 2014.
Tourists have returned due to improved political and security stability. The number of tourists reached more than 500,000 in the first five months, up by 18.3 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Tourism spending grew by 15 percent, according to a report by Global Blue. Top spenders were Gulf visitors.
The sustained confidence in the banking sector pushed total assets to more than $180 billion, up by around six percent, while deposits increased by more than $3.5 billion to exceed $148 billion.
Revenues at the Port of Beirut (PoB) increased by 12 percent to $118 million, following two years of zero growth, according to the PoB statistics, supported by the growth of maritime exports.
Airport activity was supported by the inauguration of the Cargo Center and Training Center. The number of passengers rose by six percent to 3.1 million, while the number of flights rose by four percent.
The trade deficit narrowed with the decrease in the value of imports and exports due to lower oil prices and the depreciation of the euro. “Still, the balance of payments continued to be in deficit, due to a decrease in the flow of capital to the country,” said Marwan Barakat, Head of Research at Bank Audi.
The real estate sector attracted total real estate transactions valued at $3.6 billion, although it declined by 20 percent. The South caza was the best performing area. “Expatriates working in Africa are buying mostly in the South,” said Ahmad Khatib, General Manager of the Century 21 brokerage firm.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) decreased by 3.37 percent annually, in June. This decline was related to declining global energy and food prices, and an appreciating exchange rate given the dollar’s improvement.
Central Bank (BDL)’s reserves reached $38.8 billion, up by around 15 percent, due to its monetary policy of ensuring the monetary and lira stability to be able to intervene in the event of a crisis.
Car sales dropped by two percent, according to the Association of Automobile Importers (AIA), due to BDL restrictions on retail loans, including cars. On the fiscal side, the public debt narrowed $70 billion this year, according to the Ministry of Finance, because of an increase in the Government’s spending.
Reported by Leila Rahbani
Date Posted: Jul 27, 2015