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Lebanon Economy 1996

    • Overview:
      The 1975-1991 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. A tentative peace has enabled the central government to begin restoring control in Beirut, collect taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. The battered economy has also been propped up by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers. Family remittances, banking transactions, manufactured and farm exports, the narcotics trade, and international emergency aid are the main sources of foreign exchange. In the relatively settled year of 1991, industrial production, agricultural output, and exports showed substantial gains. The further rebuilding of the war-ravaged country was delayed in 1992 because of an upturn in political wrangling. In October 1992, Rafiq HARIRI was appointed Prime Minister. HARIRI, a wealthy entrepreneur, announced ambitious plans for Lebanon's reconstruction which involve a substantial influx of foreign aid and investment. Progress on restoring basic services is limited. Since Prime Minister HARIRI's appointment, the most significant improvement lies in the stabilization of the Lebanese pound, which had gained over 30% in value by yearend 1993. The years 1993 and 1994 were marked by efforts of the new administration to encourage domestic and foreign investment and to obtain additional international assistance. The construction sector led the 8.5% advance in real GDP in 1994.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $15.8 billion (1994 est.)

    • National product real growth rate:
      8.5% (1994 est.)

    • National product per capita:
      $4,360 (1994 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      12% (1994 est.)

    • Unemployment rate:
      35% (1993 est.)

    • Budget:

        $1.4 billion

        $3.2 billion (1994 est.)

    • Exports:
      $925 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)

        agricultural products, chemicals, textiles, precious and semiprecious metals and jewelry, metals and metal products

        Saudi Arabia 21%, Switzerland 9.5%, Jordan 6%, Kuwait 12%, US 5%

    • Imports:
      $4.1 billion (c.i.f., 1993 est.)

        consumer goods, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products

        Italy 14%, France 12%, US 6%, Turkey 5%, Saudi Arabia 3%

    • External debt:
      $765 million (1994 est.)

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate 25% (1993 est.)

    • Electricity:

        1,220,000 kW

        2.5 billion kWh

        consumption per capita:
        676 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      banking, food processing, textiles, cement, oil refining, chemicals, jewelry, some metal fabricating

    • Agriculture:
      principal products - citrus fruits, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco, hemp (hashish), sheep, goats; not self-sufficient in grain

    • Illicit drugs:
      illicit producer of hashish and heroin for the international drug trade; hashish production is shipped to Western Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America; increasingly a key locus of cocaine processing and trafficking; a Lebanese/Syrian 1994 eradication campaign eliminated the opium crop and caused a 50% decrease in the cannabis crop

    • Economic aid:
      the government estimates that it has received $1.7 billion in aid and has an additional $725 million in commitments to support its $3 billion National Emergency Recovery Program

    • Currency:
      1 Lebanese pound (#L) = 100 piasters

    • Exchange rates:
      Lebanese pounds (#L) per US$1 - 1,644.6 (January 1995), 1,680.1 (1994), 1,741.4 (1993), 1,712.8 (1992), 928.23 (1991), 695.09 (1990)

    • Fiscal year:
      calendar year

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