BEIRUT: Although Lebanon's economy has been hit hard by the crisis in Syria, the Lebanese export industry has benefited, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday.
“Yes, I can say the economy has been affected by what’s going on in Syria – we have less tourists, we have less transit through Syria. But at the same time, since what happened in Syria, our industry is benefiting from this,” Mikati told CNN.
Events in neighboring Syria have taken their toll on the trade, tourism, real estate and banking sectors in Lebanon.
“They [Lebanese] are exporting goods to Syria, all payment is in cash and...because in Syria there [is] a need for such [goods]...any goods [are] coming from Lebanon, especially food and other daily use industry and we are exporting to Syria, so for this reason we are...benefiting,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Mikati added that goods going into Syria are bought from the Lebanese market.
The prime minister also expressed hope for an end to the violence in Syria, refraining from answering questions on his relationship with President Bashar Assad and means to resolve the ongoing crisis there.
“If you are asking me as prime minister of Lebanon, definitely our policy is to dissociate ourself and to dissociate to give any opinion about the Syrian issue,” Mikati said.
Lebanon has adopted a policy of disassociation in order to distance Lebanon from regional events especially the violence in Syria and spare it from any negative repercussions.
Rival leaders also adopted a similar policy when they agreed on the so-called “Baabda Declaration” during a National Dialogue session last year.
“... When it’s going to finish; how it’s going to finish; and, if it finishes, what’s next? Are we expecting stability in Syria in near future? This is very important and myself, as Lebanese and as prime minister of Lebanon, I am taking this whole option into consideration because it reflects on Lebanon and I have to look at this,” he told the television station.
“Now, anything I say, it’s a matter of guessing because I believe nobody can answer this question. So let us wait and see, as I mention again, all my wish is to finish as soon as possible and to stop this...bloodshed.”
Mikati noted that the policy, however, is not related to the Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their home country, saying: "But we said dissociating politically, not from humanitarian point of view."
He said his government is securing “housing, food, schooling” as well as medical care to the refugees who number over 306,000.