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Economy of Lebanon



Lebanon’s economy follows a laissez-faire model. Most of the economy is dollarized, and the country has no restrictions on the movement of capital across its borders. The Lebanese government’s intervention in foreign trade is minimal.

The Lebanese economy grew 8.5% in 2008 and a revised 9% in 2009 despite a global recession. Real GDP growth is estimated to have slowed from 7.5% in 2010 to 1.5% in 2011, according to IMF preliminary estimates, with nominal GDP estimated at $41.5 billion in 2011. The Banque du Liban projects real GDP growth could reach 4% in 2012, with 6% inflation (versus 4% in 2011). The political and security instability in the Arab world, especially in Syria, is expected to have a negative impact on the domestic business and economic environment.

Lebanon faces major financial challenges, notably a very high level of public debt and large external financing needs. The 2010 public debt exceeded 150.7% of GDP, ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, though down from 154.8% in 2009. Finance minister Mohamad Chatah stated that the debt reached $47 billion in 2008 and would increase to $49 billion if privatization of two telecoms companies did not occur. The Daily Star wrote that exorbitant debt levels have "slowed down the economy and reduced the government's spending on essential development projects."

The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world. Remittances from Lebanese abroad total $8.2 billion and account for one fifth of the country's economy. Lebanon has the largest proportion of skilled labor among Arab States.

The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon was established with the aim of promoting investment in Lebanon. In 2001, Investment Law No.360 was enacted to reinforce the organisation's mission