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25% of all trade in Lebanon to close but Hamwi steadfasts!

28-6-2018

Al Akhbar newspaper spotlighted the antique Hamwi perfumery shop set up in the old souk of Baalbaq since 1948 by Haj Ahmad Fallaha, nicknamed Hamwi, in reference to his hometown, Hama in Syria. Hamwi was determined before his death to hand over the trade to his two sons who honor this trade as a legacy of their father and of Baalbaq rather than a source of livelihood. The shop, Al Akhbar wrote, is packed with more than 2000 brands of herbs, spices, incense, oils, grains and few agricultural items brought from various parts of Syria, as most of them can hardly be found in Lebanon. One of the sons explained, that the conflict in Syria has negatively impacted the herb cultivation which caused an increase in prices, but stressed that things are bouncing back. On the other hand, the head of the Beirut Merchants Association, Nicolas Shammas, anticipated that nearly 20% to 25% of commercial establishments will close in the next two years, describing the trade sector as aggrieved, and revealing a slump in the activity of the commercial markets at a rate of 20% to 30% during the first half of the current year. Shammas was speaking last week during an emergency meeting called for by the different trade associations and syndicates in Lebanon to discuss the gravity of the situation on the eve of the formation of the new government. Shammas cautioned against the worsening economic situation in the country which he said is on the brink of collapse, attributing this to the recent ratification of the salaries scale and the electoral expenses. (An Nahar, Al Akhbar, Al Mustaqbal, June 22, 27, 2018)

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