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On the occasion of the National Day of Lebanese Industry, we celebrate the Lebanese private sector and the importance of trade to drive a nation's economy. The European Union is Lebanon's main trading partner and wishes to assist Lebanon in improving trade competitiveness and further integrating into international markets. Free Trade Agreements have been signed with Lebanon's main trading partners, including the European Union, through the entry into force of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement in 2003, the European Free Trade Association in 2004, and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area in 1997 .Lebanon officially applied for WTO membership in 1999, but the process has stalled because the WTO "legislative package," i.e. the trade-related legislation, is still pending in the Parliament.I see several advantages for Lebanon to join the multilateral "trade club": First, Lebanon would enjoy tariff reductions and access to foreign markets, which simply means that Lebanese exports would be subject to lower tariffs and less trade barriers.In the past weeks and months, I have heard some criticism of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement focused on the fact that trade between the EU and Lebanon is unbalanced, in the sense that EU Member States export far more to Lebanon than they import.If Lebanon decides to seek membership of WTO, it can count on EU's support.
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