BEIRUT: Lebanon’s agricultural exports fell by only 1.5 percent in 2012, the head of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon said Thursday at a Tripoli workshop.
“We have seen strong sustained growth in [agricultural] exports [over the past few years] and the percentage in decline this year does not exceed 1.5 percent,” Nabil Itani said. “This is a very positive indicator [given regional political and economic turmoil] and makes us very optimistic about the prospects for growing exports.”
Total agricultural and industrial exports have fallen by nearly 6 percent in the first eight months of 2012 from the same period last year, figures by the Lebanese Customs Department show.
Itani said that violence in Syria means that maritime exports are necessary but said the costs of sea transport has increased after demand soared over the past few months.
“[Maritime shipment companies] have realized that they have become the only gateway for exporters,” he said, calling on these agencies to lower the shipping rates.
Itani also called for improving standards of Lebanese produce as well as participating in international expos, key to open up new export markets.
The Head of the North Lebanon Chambers of Commerce praised the government’s increasing support for the agricultural sector, highlighting the role of IDAL and the Agriculture Ministry in helping farmers in the north export their produce.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2012, on page 5.