The lack of natural resources has hampered the development of a domestic industrial sector. Small family businesses dominate among industrial companies. Over ninety percent of the companies have fewer than ten employees.
Important industrial products are food, cement, clothing, furniture and wood products. Manufacture of jewelery is a growing industry.
Beka Valley is the center of a high-quality wine industry that has made itself known far beyond the borders of the country. There are also companies in the country that make products from imported oil.
The construction sector is important for the country’s economy and has contributed to increased employment. The industry experienced a boom after the war with Israel in 2006 that destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. The war also devastated parts of the industrial sector. Over 700 industrial companies, waste facilities and power stations were damaged or destroyed in the Israeli air strikes.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Lebanon. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
In recent years, Lebanon’s faltering government finances have been one of the most serious threats to the manufacturing industry as well as to other industries. The fall in the value of the currency prompted representatives of industrial companies in the autumn of 2019 to warn that the companies had difficulty obtaining raw materials that had to be imported. Like the popular protest movement that prompted the government’s resignation that same autumn, the companies also complained that poorly functioning electricity supply was jeopardizing their operations.
Government on swings after new protests
Once again, Lebanon has been shaken by a wave of protest with burning bank offices and car tires and blocked roads. Among the protesters are Shia activists, which indicates that the Diab government has lost its support of the Hezbollah movement and other groups that have given parliamentary legitimacy. The government announces that the central bank will try to stop the collapse of Lebanon’s currency by pumping dollars into the market. The protesters are accusing the government of taking action to aggravate the crisis and to exaggerate the losses of banking companies, while negotiating crisis support from the IMF.
Successful restriction of coronavirus
Lebanon is in the midst of an economic crisis but looks to cope with the covid-19 pandemic better than many other countries. No more than 27 deaths have been confirmed. The first measures were taken early (see February 21) and now three months of restrictions are coming to an end. Health care, such as intensive care, is relatively well developed, but explanations for the fact that the infection could be limited are also sought among decisions such as tests on air travelers, mandatory face masks, nightly curfews, traffic restrictions during the day and fines for nutritionists who do not keep customers. The Lebanese generally have low confidence in their government, but Health Minister Hamad Hassan gets a good rating.
UN virus tests refugees
The sars-cov-2 virus has begun to spread among Syrian refugees in Lebanon, reports UNHCR. The UN organization, which pays for investigations and possible treatment, now plans to test thousands of refugees. In the present case, coronavirus has been confirmed in 15 refugees living in the same house in the city of Majdal Anjar in Beka Valley. Among Palestinian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, six cases have been confirmed. Across Lebanon, 1,140 cases of covid-19 disease have been confirmed and 26 people have died.
Lebanon prepares liquid currency
15th of May
The Lebanese government is ready to release the fixed, official exchange rate and allow the value of the pound to float, says Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni. But the condition is that Lebanon will first receive billions in crisis relief from the outside and that the exchange rate will be released gradually. He makes his statement in connection with the start of Lebanon’s negotiations with the IMF (see April 9 and May 7).
Stronger grip on smugglers
The government orders that all goods illegally leaving or arriving in Lebanon be seized, as well as the vehicles used. The origin is that 215,000 liters of fuel and 71 tonnes of flour were discovered during the past week at the border during smuggling attempts in Syria. 25 people have been arrested. During the economic crisis that Lebanon is suffering, the pressure has increased on the government to fight against smuggling. The state spends large amounts on subsidizing basic goods, which are sometimes smuggled into Syria with good profits for the smugglers.
Prosecution for help to flying car director
Seven people are suspected of crimes in Turkey after helping the former head of the Nissan car group escape an investigation into crime in Japan. The car director, Carlos Ghosn, was detained when he escaped to Lebanon via Turkey on December 29 (see December 31, 2019). In Turkey, on January 2, seven employees of an airline were arrested. The company MNG says its aircraft was used without a permit and has made a police report.
Payment for money changer
According to eco-criminal prosecutors, the chairman of a foreign exchange cooperative is being arrested for manipulating the value of the Lebanese pound. The currency has had a fixed exchange rate against the US dollar since 1997, but the value of the pound has plummeted as a result of Lebanon’s growing economic crisis. The government has recently set a new “ceiling” that exchange offices are ordered to keep track of when they buy dollars, but the value of the pound continues to decline, in a black market. Recently, a number of offices have been closed by traders worrying about government measures and about 50 currency exchanges have been seized. On May 18, the eco-criminal prosecutor confirms that a head of the central bank is also suspected of crime.
Hezbollah is banned in Germany
The Lebanese organization Hezbollah is banned from operating on German soil. Hezbollah, which has both a political and a military branch, is now fully classified as a terrorist group; in the past, its political activities have been tolerated. The organization has no official representation in Germany, but is believed to use the country, among other things, to raise money. German police carry out strikes against mosques and associations related to the movement. The ban means, among other things, that flags with Hezbollah’s emblems may no longer appear in demonstration trains. Hezbollah’s ally Iran threatens with consequences to Germany for the country “succumbing to pressure from Israel and the United States”.
Crisis plan adopted
The government approves the financial rescue plan that has been prepared in the spring. Prime Minister Hassan Diab confirms that Lebanon is turning to the IMF for crisis loans (see April 9).
Home help for sale via social media
A 30-year-old Nigerian woman has been rescued by Lebanese authorities and given protection by the Nigerian Embassy in Beirut after being advertised on Facebook as domestic help, the BBC reports. The advertisement is perceived as a slave trade and a suspected man has been arrested.
Death shot at protests in Tripoli
The coastal city of Tripoli is shaken by demonstrations against the economic crisis. A 26-year-old dies from gunshot injuries he received during the protests, when, among other things, bank offices and an army vehicle are attacked. The army promises to investigate the death of the 26-year-old.
Violence in mountain village
Ten people lose their lives in a violent act in a mountain village a few miles south of Beirut. The perpetrator, who, in the belief that he has an honorary motive, kills his wife and two own brothers, among others, is arrested a few days later. Six of the victims were Syrians, including two children. Although it is common for Lebanese to possess weapons, incidents of the n type are unusual.
Lebanon plans for bankruptcy
Lebanon has, with the support of financial advisers, prepared a plan for how to save the country’s banks (at least the largest ones) from an imminent crisis. The plan, which takes into account, among other things, the banks’ credit losses and the restructuring of loans taken by the state, is based on the financial sector being raised up to $ 15 billion from the outside over the course of five years. This corresponds to almost 5 percent of Lebanon’s GDP every year. The crisis plan requires a devaluation of the currency, the Lebanese pound, but the idea is that savers and large shareholders in banking companies should be protected, if not fully. Analysts are cautious: IMF Although it is expected that one hand will reach out to the crisis in Lebanon, but if the country is to be able to gain access to resources as large as the crisis plan paints, the demands will be tough that the reforms must be implemented first.
New rules are most strict against refugees
Corona pandemic has made it difficult for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. According to Human Rights Watch, Syrian freedom of movement has been more limited than others in at least eight municipalities. Nightly curfew has prevailed throughout the country since the end of March. The ambassador of the Philippines dies on April 2 in covid-19, one of the 16 confirmed deaths in Lebanon so far. During her time in the country, she has worked intensively to organize home trips for tens of thousands of Filipino guest workers, most of whom have had jobs in households.
Many stuck in closed countries
About 20,000 Lebanese abroad have contacted the country’s missions and asked for help to get home from countries that have closed their borders due to the risk of spreading the covid-19 disease. Nearly 13,000 people are in African countries where there are colonies of exillibanes, not because of tourism but mostly for business. Lebanon negotiates (as do other countries with many citizens stuck abroad) on solutions, and the issue triggers a political feud.
Corona inserts are accelerated
the 12th of March
The World Bank approves that Lebanon redistributes $ 40 million to efforts to combat coronas. The money is part of a comprehensive support for health care initiatives that were originally approved in 2017. The World Bank notes that the disease covid-19 risks striking particularly hard against refugees. A fast track for, among other things, healthcare equipment through UN organizations has been activated.
Lebanon suspends loan payment
Lebanon announces for the first time that the state cannot pay a foreign currency loan that expires on the same day. The foreign exchange reserve is not enough. Bank analysts believe that Lebanon is in desperate need of IMF emergency loans to calm creditors. The powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement, which, along with its allies, dominates the parliament, has been opposed by US-backed IMF crisis loans, but a few days later understands that a rescue package can be considered “if conditions are reasonable”. The IMF calls on Lebanon to implement rapid reforms to stabilize the economy.
Prosecutors press Lebanon’s banks
Eco-criminal prosecutor Ali Ibrahim plots assets with the detention of some 20 Lebanese banks and their boards. The decision that puts pressure on the banks would also need to be approved by Lebanon’s governor, but state prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat is already putting the measure on ice after a day, citing that it could damage the country’s fragile economy. The consequences, for example for the savers, must be considered, considers the country’s RA. It is not clear what suspected crimes the prosecutor’s office is investigating within the banking system, but the investigation is based on reports of capital flight.
Prosecutors call for capital flight
The president of the Lebanon Banking Association and representatives of 14 banks are asked by prosecutors about how large sums of money may have been taken out of the country, while the banks have restricted dollar withdrawals and transfers abroad for most Lebanese. $ 2.3 billion should have left the country in the months when Lebanon was shaken by demonstrations against abuses and corruption. According to eco-criminal prosecutors, owners of banking companies have brought money out of the country for their own part, which has led to reduced domestic access to currency. On March 9, one of the government’s loans becomes due. If Lebanon is forced to announce that it cannot pay, it will be more difficult for the indebted country to obtain new loans.
Virus pandemic reaches Lebanon
Lebanon gets its first case confirmed by the infectious disease covid-19. Patients have recently been reported to have visited Iran, one of the most affected countries. As a result of the spread of infection, Lebanon takes a number of measures: air traffic is restricted and schools are closed, but there is a lack of protective equipment needed in intensive care.
New government approved
Hassan Diab’s government gets approved by Parliament in a vote of confidence. The government declaration is also approved. It does not happen without protests outside the building: according to the Red Cross, 373 protesters are treated for, among other things, tear gas, of which 45 are hospitalized. Before the end of February, Diab’s announced crisis plan must be completed.
The government presents a crisis plan
6th of February
The government adopts guidelines on how to resolve the economic crisis. The rescue plan will be presented in Parliament the following week, when the members will also vote on the government itself. As sometimes from previous ministers, the government’s statement contains some controversial lines about the “tripartite alliance between the army, the people and the Resistance”. The latter refers to the Hezbollah movement, which through legitimacy gives legitimacy as an armed movement.
Reduced limits on dollar withdrawals
Three large banks confirm that they have further tightened their currency controls: halving the permitted amounts for dollar withdrawals. Since September, both withdrawals and transfers in dollars have been limited, as the Lebanese currency reserve is strained. The maximum amounts vary between the banks, some now setting the limit at $ 600 a month. Bank control means that Lebanese are forced to settle for the country’s own currency, the Lebanese pound, which they want to avoid because it has lost much in value. At the same time, the official dollar exchange rate has been steady since 1997.
The outgoing government budget proposal is approved
Parliament adopts the outgoing government’s draft state budget for 2020, despite protesters trying to prevent members from reaching the vote; The protesters are in turn attacked by police forces with tear gas and some arrested. In recent years, Lebanon’s government has had the ambition to reduce government spending to get rid of promised loans from international aid agencies (see April 6, 2018). The chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee says that the ongoing wave of protests and its consequences has made it even more difficult to achieve a balanced budget. 70 out of 128 members participate in the vote and the draft budget is adopted with 49 votes in favor. Hassan Diab’s government has not yet been approved by Parliament; it is unclear what it might want to do for amendments through supplementary proposals.
New government is met with skepticism
Former Education Minister Hassan Diab, who in December was commissioned to form a new government, presents the 20 people elected to ministerial posts. Nassif Hitti, respected diplomat, becomes Foreign Minister after President’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, heavily criticized by the protest movement that wants to remove all representatives of the country’s established political elites. Economist Ghazni Wazni takes care of Lebanon’s faltering economy and Zeina Akar becomes the country’s first female defense minister. Diab promises to try to meet popular demands for reform, but the protest movement fails to cheer: Admittedly, several political groups are choosing to stand outside, but the new government is backed by both the powerful Shi’a Hezbollahand President Aoun’s Christian dominated party. Paula Yacoubian, TV celebrity and elected in parliament on a mandate for the Armenian people group, according to the AFP news agency, calls the ministerial list “new pieces on old clothes”.
Riot in central Beirut
Clashes between protesters and security forces are raging in central Beirut. The weekend is described as the messiest since the wave of protests against the country’s political elite began in the fall of 2019. Police are blocking the road to Parliament for a crowd calling out slogans like “Revolution!” Protesters throw stones and security forces use water cannons and tear gas at them. On the evening of January 19, medical personnel count at least 530 injured during two protest days. Lebanon’s economy is very strained, and the fact that banks are restricting money withdrawals is increasing the anger of citizens. Vandalization of bank offices and ATMs is reported.
Hezbollah on British terror list
Britain classifies the entire Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization. With the support of legislation from the turn of the millennium, the British authorities designate 75 organizations as terrorist groups. Hezbollah’s armed branch has been on the list ever since. In March 2019, the government decided to extend the terrorist classification for the Shi’a movement, and the decision that the Ministry of Finance now publishes means that any assets that Hezbollah has in the UK can be frozen.
Hezbollah agrees in threat to US
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the powerful Hezbollah Shi’a movement, threatens in a televised speech the United States that military US personnel will pay a high price for the murder of the head of Iran’s foreign force al-Quds (the “Jerusalem Force”). General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by an American drone in Baghdad on January 3, was a key figure in the cooperation between Shiite forces in Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Iran has sworn to avenge the assassination. For its part, Nasrallah emphasizes that civilians “as businessmen, engineers, journalists and physicians” will be saved.