BEIRUT: Mohamed Choucair, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, expressed confidence Wednesday that his list had a 95 percent chance to win Sunday’s elections.
The single candidate who was supposed to run against Choucair withdrew his nomination, paving the way for the re-election of the current president.
Choucair told The Daily Star that most of the candidates withdrew from the elections, vowing to provide all the support needed for industrialists to succeed beyond the boundaries of their country.
Choucair laid out an agenda for the coming year that focuses on expanding opportunities for the export of Lebanese products.
“Our aim for 2014 is to open new export markets for Lebanese industrialists who cannot rely anymore on the local market for the marketing of their products due to the security and political instability prevailing in Lebanon,” he said.
He said that Lebanese industrialists would have the chance participate in the exhibition in Jeddah for three days in April, featuring Lebanese products.
“Some Lebanese companies do not have the capability of marketing their products outside Lebanon,” he said, adding that the exhibition aimed to help these people find new markets for their products.
Choucair said that many industrialists were already present in foreign markets.
“This exhibition will help those who already export their products by further expanding their market,” he said.
Choucair said that the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture would support small companies by paying 50 percent of the cost of their participation in exhibitions outside Lebanon.
“We will be starting with this plan by supporting around 75 companies in Jeddah’s exhibition next spring,” he said.
He also said the chamber was planning to hold similar exhibitions in Dubai, China and the United States in order to provide further support for Lebanese industrialists.
Meanwhile, caretaker Industry Minister Vreij Sabounjian called upon Lebanese industrialists to expand to new markets such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and African countries, warning they could not count on the government alone to facilitate their operations.
“We have great opportunities in 2014 to go beyond our country’s borders in exporting our goods, especially that Lebanon is characterized with its skilled human resources who are capable of manufacturing high quality products,” he said.
Lebanon’s industrial exports in the first 11 months of 2013 rose by 8.1 percent to $2.642 billion from $2.444 billion in the same period of 2012, according to a report issued by the Industry Ministry Tuesday.
Among the main Lebanese-made products exported last year were agricultural foodstuffs, garments, chemicals, minerals and precious stones. Iraq was the top country to import Lebanese food products in the month of November last year, while Turkey ranked first for mineral imports.
The report said that Arab markets remained the largest buyers of Lebanese-made goods in 2013, a trend which is likely to continue for the next few years.