Trade balance deficit
improves by 12 percent
Decrease in international oil prices contributed most to lower import value
The trade balance (exports minus imports) improved by 12 percent last year, reaching $15 billion compared to $17 billion in 2014, according to Customs.
Marwan Barakat, Head of Research at Bank Audi, said that the decrease in the trade is attributed to the drop in oil prices and the depreciation of some currencies, mainly the euro versus the dollar.
Imports dropped by 12 percent, exports by 11 percent. The drop in the value of exports was due to the insecurity of transport lines through Syria after the closing of the Nassib border.
Barakat said that the drop in trade balance will not improve the deficit in the balance of payments, because the financial inflows, including Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), the touristic inflows and remittances decreased by 27 percent in the first ten months. The balance of payment deficit increased from $900 million in the first ten months of 2014 to $2.2 billion in the same period of 2015.
“Financial imbalances are growing and this is threatening the financial resilience at large,” said Barakat.
He said that if the exports and financial inflows remained stable, we would have seen better results. The Central Bank (BDL) expected zero percent growth for this year. “The economy’s slowdown is influencing consumption negatively. For this reason, we did not witness improvements in imports, although there are Syrian refugees,” said Barakat.
Around 70 to 80 percent of all containers are exported to Arab countries, according to Port of Beirut Statistics. The top four export destinations are Saudi Arabia ($357 million), United Arab Emirates ($288 million), Iraq ($201 million), and Syria ($93 million). As for other countries, Lebanon exports to Turkey as the top non-Arab destination ($67 million), and South Korea ($62 million).
As for imports, China ranks first with around $2 billion worth of merchandise. It is followed by Italy ($1.2 billion), Germany ($1.1 billion), France ($977 million), and Turkey ($601 million).
Food industries rank first in exports ($482 million), followed by pearls and precious stones ($434 million), then machinery and electrical instruments ($414 million).
Mineral products rank first in imports ($3.5 billion), followed by machinery and electrical instruments ($2 billion), then products of chemical industries ($1.9).
Exports of agricultural products reached $215 million, while imports exceeded $1.8 billion.
Date Posted: Feb 02, 2016