Lebanon’s trade gap widens 6% y/y in February

By bne IntelliNews April 15, 2016

Lebanon's trade deficit expanded 6% y/y to $1.149bn in February as imports increased whereas exports dropped, preliminary figures from the Lebanese Customs showed.

Lebanon’s foreign trade parameters have absorbed the shock of falling oil prices while private consumption and industrial demand consolidated. The pattern, set to sustain in H1, will definitely worsen Lebanon’s external position, widening the already chronic Balance of Payment deficit.

A worsening trade gap, coupled with faltering services income amid weak tourism activity, widened Lebanon’s balance of payments (BoP) deficit to $719mn in January from $372mn the preceding month, data from the central bank showed. In January 2015, the BoP reached $280mn.

Exports dropped 3.3% y/y but jumped 23% m/m to $236mn in February mainly on growing sales of fresh produce and gold items. Exports of semi-finished goods also remained strong amid rebounding regional demand for generics and other goods.

Imports increased 4.3% y/y to $1.377bn in February but fell 7.8% m/m. Mineral products (crude oil is the single biggest constituent) remain Lebanon’s top import followed by electrical equipment and machinery, chemicals and transport.

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