Trade policy of Lebanon in a new development era

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL3.SEP/2022/Policy Brief.3

Country: Lebanese Republic

Publication Type: Policy briefs

Cluster: Shared Economic Prosperity

Focus Area: Trade & regional connectivity

Initiatives: Transport and trade connectivity

SDGs: Agenda 2030

Keywords: Trade, Customs formalities, Development, Rules and regulations, Tariffs, Technical cooperation, Trade agreements, Agricultural production

Trade policy of Lebanon in a new development era

January 2023

An ESCWA ex-post assessment of the free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by Lebanon with the European Union and with other Arab countries shows that the subpar performance of Lebanon under these agreements can be broadly attributed to three main reasons that have led the country to reach over $250 billion in trade deficit over the past two decades. While the impacts of such a high trade deficit will hinder Lebanon’s economic recovery, it may provide an opportunity to re-examine its trade policy vis-a-vis its economic development path.

In this context, and given that Lebanon is not yet a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has the opportunity to revise its tariff structure applied on non-preferential imports, and to implement new non-tariff barriers and special taxes. Nevertheless, for imports from preferential partners, Lebanon has the opportunity to either initiate safeguard measures or simply freeze specific FTA provisions to reduce its trade imbalances and facilitate its economic recovery and transformation.

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