Lebanon Businessnews News

Ministry of Industry to review trade agreements
Possible higher custom rates on some products
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The Minister of Industry criticized free trade policies that allow a large volume of imports into Lebanon, harming local industrialists, during a June 6 seminar on “Innovation in Lebanon’s Industrial Sector” organized by the National Council for Scientific Research and the World Bank.
Minister of Industry, Hussein Hajj Hassan, called for reviewing the trade agreements signed with other countries.
Hajj Hassan said that most of the trade agreements signed had a very negative impact on the industry. Imports reach $20 billion per year, while the exports do not exceed $4 billion, and this is due to the free trade policies, according to Hajj Hassan. Noting, as an example, how the Arab Free Trade Agreements harmed the textile and clothes industry.
He said that the government does not have the means to support the industrial sector financially, but it can work on several alternatives.
“The government can support industry through providing industrialists with industrial lands for free. It can also hinder the access of some products through imposing qualitative fees on them, and it can protect the industry through imposing specific standards on the products imported,” Hajj Hassan said.  
He said: “It is the state’s responsibility to provide industrialists with the required infrastructure such as low power prices, and low cost industrial cities.”
According to Hajj Hassan, industrialists are not able to compete in international markets due to their high operational costs compared to other countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. 
Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: Jun 06, 2014
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