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Renewed call for closing down Syrian businesses to protect Lebanese industry

12-5-2017

The Lebanese Industrialists Association (LIA) has transformed what it called an “urge” to salvage Lebanon’s industrial sector into a “plea” against it, according to Al Akhbar today. The newspaper criticized a press conference on Tuesday held by LIA Head, Nadim Gemayel, in the presence of the ministers of industry and economy, which called for the closure of all illegitimate factories and plants set up by displaced Syrians across the country. It considered the LIA appeal as a serious shift from a ceaseless demand in favor of protection and advancement of national industry into a request to shut down existing factories. A call, Al Akhbar wrote, that turned a blind eye to the establishment of new facilities, or fixing the status of illegal ones, and facilitation of Syrian investment in the Lebanese industry through easing the transfer of expertise and creating more jobs provided by their establishments. Al Akhbar maintained that the roots of the industrial crisis digs deep in history and is not essentially related to the presence of legal or illegal Syrian institutions, referring to World Bank figures which recorded a decline from12.5% in 1997 to 8.8% in 2009 in the share of industry in the GDP. This explains, according to Al Akhbar, that the fall in industry indices has preceded and is unrelated to the Syrian exodus. While the average GDP growth in the mentioned period (1997-2009) was estimated at 3.7%, the average growth of industry posted 1.7%, the second lowest growth rate among sectors after agriculture (1.1%) (WB figures). The newspaper went on to say, that instead of focusing on the real causes of the crisis, the industry minister Hajj Hassan disclosed that he ordered the closure of all illegitimate factories in Beqaa, and was fully backed by his economy counterpart, who urged relevant municipalities to cooperate to this effect. (Al Akhbar, May 12, 2017)

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