Lebanon, bridge and door

 

Anwar Zibaoui

Expert in International Economy

 

In the heart of the Middle East and at the intersection of three continents. Where the East meets the West. In the crossover of commercial routes for thousands of years, that is where Lebanon is: the country of the cedar tries to come back as a regional and international centre for trade, finance, services, culture and tourism.

 

The small Mediterranean country is a unique case, geographical location, a mixture of cultural and religious combinations, and a free market economy. A strong commercial tradition and of private initiative, an advanced banking system, without restrictions in the movement of capital. The maximum tax rates for companies are of 15%. A secure legal framework, a qualified workforce and an open lifestyle. Lebanon offers to international companies a wide range of opportunities in many sectors, especially in tourism, agriculture and energy. On the other hand, it represents an entry door to a big regional market and especially to Syria and Iraq, and everything indicates that Syria’s reconstruction will have Lebanon as a logistic and financial platform, and as a hub for international companies.

 

With 16 million emigrants, it is the only country that has four times its population distributed over the 5 continents of the world. Emigration is part of its history, present and future; and it defines and determines its economy, culture and the mobility of its human capital.

 

“Emigration is part of its history and it determines its economy and culture”

 

Its weak points are the huge debt contracted because of the reconstruction after the civil war and the impact of conflicts in the region. The country is an economy to produce graduates: it exports talents and imports unqualified workforce.

 

The Lebanese economy has a double deficit, both fiscal and commercial; it imports more than it exports. The financing of these deficits requires a continuous entry of capital, which, to a large extent, is guaranteed by the transfers of emigrants, which amounted to 8,000 million dollars in 2016.

 

Lebanon is also a country of 4.5 million people that takes in 1.5 million refugees from Syria. This humanitarian crisis has cost it 20,000 million dollars, in a country with an annual GDP of 48,000 million dollars.

 

A very rich culture and a vibrant society. Birthplace of the Phoenician and home of the Assyrian, Babylonians, Greek, Canaanites, Romans, Arab, Byzantines and Europeans. For a long time, Lebanon has been, and it keeps being, the bridge and natural door for trade and services towards and from the region.

 

17/08/2017. This article has been originally published by Atalayar

 

 

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