BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said Friday maritime agricultural exports were proceeding smoothly despite some outstanding issues that still needed to be sorted out.
Speaking at a news conference at the ministry, Hajj Hasan said Lebanon’s agricultural exports were not in danger so long as the country was able to ship products through Syria. He added that his ministry was coordinating with the ports of Beirut and Tripoli in order to ship Lebanese agricultural produce.
The Lebanese government reviewed export routes after numerous farmers complained that ferrying goods through Syria had become too dangerous as a result of the clashes between the regime’s forces and its opposition.
“Transporting goods through the ports of Beirut and Tripoli is going smoothly so far,” Hajj Hasan said, adding that the Agri Plus program, which is part of the Agriculture Ministry, was coordinating with the Economy Ministry to remove all hurdles with both Egypt and Turkey.
But Hajj Hasan admitted there were differences between the truckers unions and exporters. He added that Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi was trying to resolve the differences between unions and exporters.
Hajj Hasan stressed that among the issues that should be tackled immediately were the slow bureaucratic procedures in the customs department in Masnaa area.
Lebanon’s exports fell sharply in the second half of this year as a result of the volatile situation in Syria.
Hajj Hasan said the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon would assess the cost of maritime exports and compare them to the cost export by land.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 18, 2012, on page 4.