BEIRUT: Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan Friday said Lebanon needed to restrict imports and impose protective economic policies to save its industries, the National News Agency reported.
“How shall we treat the industrial case? The best choice is to impose protective tarrifs [on imports],” Hajj Hasan said during an industrial gathering at Le Royal, Dbayyeh.
He called for enacting regulations that impose qualitative fees and import licenses, to restrict imported products to specific standards and features. He also did not rule out the reduction of imports “if necessary.”
Hajj Hasan stressed that such policies did not contradict Lebanon’s free trade agreements but protected domestic industries against dumping and unfair competition.
Dumping is used by international manufacturers when they export products to other countries at very low prices that deny competition for local industries.
The minister also criticized the marginalization of agriculture and industry in economic development, saying that some people “want neither industry nor agriculture.”
Lebanon’s economy is service oriented, and its manufacturing and agricultural sectors combined are estimated to contribute by only 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
“We all know that the commercial deficit has reached $15 billion, while imports touched $45 billion,” he said. “Hereafter, we should all think about these numbers.”
In parallel, Hajj Hasan said he was working with international organizations to train Lebanese manufacturers. The trainings, he explained, aim to help industries reach international production standards.
He also announced that his ministry was preparing long-term plans to develop manufacturing infrastructure in Lebanon, which he said was vital for industrial development.