BEIRUT: Lebanon recorded the highest balance of trade surplus with Syria thanks to exports of fuel oil to its war-ravaged neighbor, according to figures released this week by the Beirut Chamber of Commerce.
The statistics show Lebanon’s exports to Syria in the first six months of this year reached $391.119 million, while Syrian imports to Lebanon reached only $113.065 million, indicating the highest balance of trade surplus achieved to date.
Experts attribute this phenomenon to the civil war in Syria, which has wreaked havoc and destruction on the country’s industrial sector.
Traditionally, Syria has always recorded a surplus in the balance of trade with Lebanon due to cheap labor and goods and subsidized industries.
The Chamber of Commerce said that the main reason for Lebanon’s trade surplus was the rise in exports of oil derivatives to Syria, which reached some $294.203 million in the first six months of 2013.
Syria has grown heavily dependent on Lebanese fuel oil exports after the United States, Europe and the Arab Gulf states applied severe economic sanctions on the Syrian regime.
The report noted that if fuel oil exports were excluded, Lebanon’s exports of other materials to Syria dropped by 23.3 percent in the first six months of 2013.
Other Lebanese items which saw a rise in demand in Syria were flour and wheat, which rose by 564.60 percent compared to the same period of 2012.
Soap and detergents were also among the other Lebanese-made products in high demand in Syria this year.
The report said demand in Syria for electronics, paper, cardboard, cars, tractors and bicycles has dropped.