Real exports down 14 percent last year. Iraq’s stricter constraints led to drastic decrease - Lebanon

Real exports down
14 percent last year
Iraq’s stricter constraints

led to drastic decrease

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Industrial and agricultural ‘real’ exports decreased 14 percent last year, compared to 2015, registering $2.1 billion, according to figures published by Customs.

The ‘Real’ export figures exclude pearls and precious stones, which registered $828 million compared to $434 million last year. It also exclude mineral products (mostly oil products, mainly re-exported to Syria), which decreased to $19 million from $30 million in the previous year.

Exports also decreased 14 percent in terms of weight, registering 1.6 million tons last year.

Total exports, including pearls and precious stones and mineral products, increased one percent.

Mounir Bissat, Chairman of the Industrial Exports Development Council at the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, said: “Producers are facing difficulties in exporting to Iraq, mainly because of customs barriers, as well transportation constraints.” Exports to Iraq dropped from $225 million in 2015 to $161 million last year.

Bissat said that large amounts of goods used to be transited to Syria, but this recently stopped.

Exports of prepared foodstuff and beverages decreased seven percent. The value of exports in tons decreased from 370,000 tons to 303,000 tons last year. Bissat said that one of the reasons is the international decrease in commodities and raw material prices.

Exports of machinery and electrical instruments reached $335 million during last year, decreasing 19 percent. Chemical products dropped 25 percent to $305 million.

Bissat said that there is recession in the Gulf economy and this is influencing our exports.

“We are still witnessing demand but at a slower pace than few years ago,” he said.

The only increase recorded was in plastic (four percent) reaching $133 million.

Agricultural exports decreased seven percent to reach $200 million last year. The value of vegetable exports in tons decreased nine percent from to 405,000 tons. Agricultural exports decreased 13 percent compared to 2014.

Naim Khalil, Chairman of the Syndicate of Fruits and Vegetables Exporters and Importers, said: “Agricultural exported started dropping drastically since the closure of the Nassib border crossing in April 2015.”

According to Customs, vegetable and fruit exports to Iraq dropped from 10,000 tons in 2015 to 5,000 ton last year. Khalil said that farmers used to export overland, but it is now done either in RoRo ships via Turkey, or from Kuwait, which are both very expensive.

Khalil said that exports to Egypt also dropped, due to the decrease of the Egyptian pound against the dollar, and therefore the increase in their purchasing power.

He said that export to Jordan also dropped due to the high cost of shipping in RoRo’s.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Jan 27, 2017