Lebanon Businessnews News

$13 billion is the
local cost of the Syrian war
Positive boosts to

imports and production rates

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Losses in Lebanon due to the Syrian war have been estimated at $13.1 billion. Of which $5.6 billion points to 2015 alone, according to this month’s Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region 2015-2016, published by ESCWA.

The early years of the war (2012-2014) cut real GDP growth by around three percentage points per year. Demand for local goods from Syria – Lebanon’s fifth largest trading partner – has fallen and transit routes are blocked. Local manufacturers have been hit hardest because trading costs have also risen.

The survey revealed that the number of vulnerable locals now matches that of Syrian refugees. Demand for water utilities and related services have increased 28 percent since 2011.

It also showed that refugee and migrant inflows to the country have swelled the labor force by 50 percent, making the creation of job schemes even more important.

“It is estimated that the influx, coupled with stalled job creation, could have left between 220,000 and 340,000 locals, particularly women, the young, and the unskilled, out of work. This has doubled unemployment to 20 percent,” the report said.

Access to formal work is difficult for Syrian refugees. Those who are working mostly do so informally, potentially pushing locals out of such work.

The report also highlighted positive impacts. The import of goods has been sustained. The reason points to the consumption rates of refugees. Their presence has also contributed to the resilience of the country’s diverse export activity. The Port of Beirut has been busier due to the closure of overland trade routes through Syria.

The conflict has opened up new export and production opportunities for local firms.

Some local exporters have lost trade, but this has allowed others to step into the breach and replace lost domestic production in Syria.

The Government estimated that for 2016 alone, $2.48 billion is needed to cope with the Syrian crisis.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Nov 16, 2016
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