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Lebanon Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and inadequate intellectual property rights protection. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.

The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007, following the July 2006 war. The "CEDRE" investment event hosted by France in April 2018 again rallied the international community to assist Lebanon with concessional financing and some grants for capital infrastructure improvements, conditioned upon long-delayed structural economic reforms in fiscal management, electricity tariffs, and transparent public procurement, among many others.

The Syria conflict cut off one of Lebanon's major markets and a transport corridor through the Levant. The influx of nearly one million registered and an estimated 300,000 unregistered Syrian refugees has increased social tensions and heightened competition for low-skill jobs and public services. Lebanon continues to face several long-term structural weaknesses that predate the Syria crisis, notably, weak infrastructure, poor service delivery, institutionalized corruption, and bureaucratic over-regulation. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the third highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. These factors combined to slow economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-17, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Weak economic growth limits tax revenues, while the largest government expenditures remain debt servicing, salaries for government workers, and transfers to the electricity sector. These limitations constrain other government spending, limiting its ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation. In early 2018, the Lebanese government signed long-awaited contract agreements with an international consortium for petroleum exploration and production as part of the country’s first offshore licensing round. Exploration is expected to begin in 2019.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$88.25 billion (2017 est.)
$86.94 billion (2016 est.)
$85.45 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$54.18 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
1.5% (2017 est.)
1.7% (2016 est.)
0.2% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$19,600 (2017 est.)
$19,500 (2016 est.)
$19,300 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
-0.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
4.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 87.6% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 13.3% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 21.8% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.5% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 23.6% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -46.4% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 3.9% (2017 est.)
industry: 13.1% (2017 est.)
services: 83% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
28.6% (2004 est.)
Labor force
2.166 million (2016 est.)

note: excludes as many as 1 million foreign workers and refugees

Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 39% NA (2009 est.)
industry: NA
services: NA
Unemployment rate
9.7% (2007)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
revenues: 11.62 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 15.38 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
21.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-6.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
146.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
145.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover central government debt and exclude debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment

Inflation rate (consumer prices)
4.5% (2017 est.)
-0.8% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate
10% (31 December 2017)
10% (31 December 2016)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
8.29% (31 December 2017 est.)
8.35% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$7.047 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$6.739 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$7.047 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$6.739 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$108.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$104 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$11.22 billion (30 December 2014 est.)
$10.54 billion (30 December 2013 est.)
$10.42 billion (28 December 2012 est.)
Agriculture - products
citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
banking, tourism, real estate and construction, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
Industrial production growth rate
-21.1% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$12.37 billion (2017 est.)
-$11.18 billion (2016 est.)
$3.524 billion (2017 est.)
$3.689 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
jewelry, base metals, chemicals, consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners
China 13%, UAE 9.9%, South Africa 7.5%, Saudi Arabia 6.5%, Syria 6.5%, Iraq 5.8%, Turkey 4.6% (2017)
$18.34 billion (2017 est.)
$17.71 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners
China 10.2%, Italy 8.9%, Greece 7%, Germany 6.6%, US 6.3%, Turkey 4.5%, Egypt 4.2% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$55.42 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$54.04 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$39.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$36.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$61.02 billion (2016)
$58.46 billion (2015)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$13.46 billion (2016)
$12.69 billion (2015)
Exchange rates
Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -
1,507.5 (2017 est.)
1,507.5 (2016 est.)
1,507.5 (2015 est.)
1,507.5 (2014 est.)
1,507.5 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020

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