In Q1 of 2020, Lebanon’s trade deficit totaled $2B, narrowing from the $4.09B registered in the same period last year. In fact, total imported goods retreated by 40.8% year-on-year (YOY) to $2.93B by March 2020. This may be attributed to the national foreign currency shortage and negative growth, as the country grapples with an ongoing economic and financial crisis while the BDL covers the imports of essential goods. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s total exports added 6.8% YOY to $914M by March 2020.
In term of value, the “Mineral products” grasped the lion’s share of total imported goods with a stake of 34.11%. “Products of the chemical or allied industries” ranked second, composing 12.28% of the total while “Pearls, precious stones and metals” and “Vegetable Products” grasped the respective shares of 9.13% and 7.52%, respectively.
In details, Lebanon imported $999.83M worth of “Mineral Products”, compared to a value of $1.6B in the same period last year. In fact, the net weight of imported “mineral fuels, oils and their products” decreased since last year and witnessed a yearly drop from 2,648,191 tons by March 2019 to reach 1,818,270 tons by March 2020. In turn, the values of “Products of the chemical or allied industries” and “Vegetable Products” recorded yearly drops of 30.63% and 28.43% to settle at $359.85M and $220.46M respectively. However, the value of “Pearls, precious stones and metals “witnessed a yearly increase by 14.18% to settle at $267.54M in Q1 2020.
By March, the top three import sources were Greece, Italy and Turkey grasping the respective shares of 9.49%, 7.86% and 7.69% of the total value of imports.
On the Exports front, Lebanon’s top exported products were “Pearls, precious stones and metals” grasping a share of 40.85% of the total. “Prepared foodstuffs, beverages & tobacco” and “Base metals &articles of base metal” followed, with each grasping a share of 11.05% and 9.43%, respectively, of the total.
In detail, the value of “Pearls, precious stones and metals” climbed yearly by 35.55% to $373.34M in Q1 2020. Meanwhile, the value of “Prepared foodstuffs, beverages & tobacco” witnessed a yearly downtick of 2.24% to reach $100.97M by March 2020. As for the value of “Base metals &articles of base metal”, it added an annual increase of 12.15% to $86.16M.
The top three export destinations by March 2020 were Switzerland, UAE and KSA with the respective shares of 29.23%, 14.37% and 6.60%.
Worth mentioning that on May 27, 2020, the central bank issued two separate Circulars, Nos. 556 and 557, providing commercial banks with foreign currency to finance the imports of raw material for industry and the imports of basic food and the raw material for the agro-food industry.
Trade Deficit in Q1 ($B)
Source: Lebanese Customs