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Crisis of agricultural exports to Syria eases amidst a slight regression in foreign trade deficit


In the framework of the agriculture ministry’s strategy to secure foreign outlets for the Lebanese agricultural products, and following minister Ghazi Zoueiter’s visit to Damascus last week and his talks with Syrian premier and involved ministers, the special Syrian-Lebanese committee held its regular meeting in Taanayel, Bekaa on Monday. The meeting, headed by Zoueiter in the presence of the secretary general of the Higher Syrian-Lebanese Council, Nasri Khoury, discussed the required mechanisms to activate the work of the joint agricultural technical committees, mainly the export of Lebanese vegetables and livestock to neighboring Syrian markets. On another front, the trade deficit fell by USD 64 million annually, to stand nearly at USD 7.94 billion by the end of the first half of 2017, down from USD 8.1 billion in the same period of last year, according to Customs Higher Council figures. The decline in deficit, Customs sources said, is due to an increase in the export bill by USD 48 million on a year-to-year basis to roughly USD 1.44 billion, accompanied by shrinking imports (by USD 16 million) to below USD 9.38 billion. To note, China came first on the list of exporting countries to Lebanon, with an export bill of USD 915 million (representing 9.76% of Lebanon’s import bill). South Africa topped the list of importing countries, with an import bill of USD 184 million (equivalent to 12.82% of total Lebanese exports). (Al Diyar, An Nahar, August 23, 2017)

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