BEIRUT

Local

Syria crisis costs Lebanon $150 mln in exports

The port of Beirut is seen in this Wednesday, April 4, 2012 photo. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon has lost around $150 million in exports since the beginning of 2012, the head of the state-run Export Development Council was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Khaled Farshoukh warned that an imminent crisis would hit the industrial and agricultural sectors if the government failed to secure export routes bypassing Syria, were the security situation has been deteriorating since an uprising started March 2011.

“[Lebanese exports would face] a disaster if border crossings with Syria become completely closed,” the National News Agency quoted Farshoukh as saying.

He reiterated that the government should take measures to secure additional maritime shipping routes, particularly to vital markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

“The recently opened ferry route between Mersin [Turkey] and Tripoli is not enough because it only serves the Turkish and Iraqi markets,” he said. “We need a route that could serve the Gulf markets.”

While the head of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon told The Daily Star last week that the government was finalizing talks over the issue with various shipping agencies, a solution has yet to materialize. He admitted shipping via sea is not a readily available option.

Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said Tuesday maritime transport should be a part of a comprehensive plan to boost exports, rather than a temporary measure.

Farshoukh said industrial exports were particularly affected by the deteriorating situation in Syria. Some “40 percent of all our exports are transported through Syria. The figure stands at over $1.5 billion,” he said.

According to Farshoukh the last few months saw the sharpest drop in exports. “The number of trucks crossing the borders fell from over 300 to just 50 [per day],” he said. “On many days not a single truck is crossing the border.”

He said most truck owners were hesitating to take shipments after many of them faced security incidents. “Many trucks were abducted and others which were shot at,” he said.

Transportation prices have risen sharply, Farshoukh added, putting the increase at around 50 percent.

Moreover, most insurance companies have been refusing to issue policies on trucks and goods passing through Syria. “Those who still accept have multiplied their fares by more than ninefold,” he said.

Economists have given conflicting reasons behind Lebanon’s alarming trade deficit that increased 22.5 percent to $8.71 billion in the first half of 2012. While some said smuggling of fuel to Syria accounted for the increase, others said the soaring cost of imports and stagnating exports are behind the widening deficit.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 02, 2012, on page 5.

Recommended

Related Articles

Entities

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here