Lebanon: Economy#

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.

The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007, following the July 2006 war.

Spillover from the Syrian conflict, including the influx of more than 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees, has increased internal tension and slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-15, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Syrian refugees have increased the labor supply, but pushed more Lebanese into unemployment. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the fourth highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. Weak economic growth limits tax revenues, while the largest government expenditures remain debt servicing, salaries for government workers, and transfers to the electricity sector. These limitations constrain other government spending and limit the government’s ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$85.16 billion (2016 est.)
$84.32 billion (2015 est.)
$83.48 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$51.82 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate1% (2016 est.)
1% (2015 est.)
2% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$18,500 (2016 est.)
$18,500 (2015 est.)
$18,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving2% of GDP (2016 est.)
1.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
-1.6% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 93.4%
government consumption: 13.7%
investment in fixed capital: 27.2%
investment in inventories: 0.6%
exports of goods and services: 20.2%
imports of goods and services: -55.1% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 5.7%
industry: 25%
services: 69.4% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscitrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industriesbanking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
Industrial production growth rate1.4% (2016 est.)
Labor force1.628 million
note: does not include as many as 1 million foreign workers, nor refugees (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rateNA%
Population below poverty line28.6% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $9.953 billion
expenditures: $14.44 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues19.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-8.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt161.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
147.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover central government debt, and exclude debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as in
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-1% (2016 est.)
-3.8% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate3.5% (31 December 2010)
10% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate8.2% (31 December 2016 est.)
7.09% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$6.466 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.998 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$55.48 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$52.15 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$103.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$97.05 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$11.22 billion (30 December 2014 est.)
$10.54 billion (30 December 2013 est.)
$10.42 billion (28 December 2012 est.)
Current account balance-$10.56 billion (2016 est.)
-$10.65 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$3.108 billion (2016 est.)
$3.551 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesjewelry, base metals, chemicals, consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partnersSaudi Arabia 12.1%, UAE 10.6%, Iraq 7.6%, Syria 7.1%, South Africa 6.6% (2015)
Imports$17.98 billion (2016 est.)
$16.71 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiespetroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partnersChina 11.5%, Italy 7.1%, Germany 6.8%, France 6%, US 5.7%, Russia 4.6%, Greece 4.4% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$47.74 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$48.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$40.74 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$37.08 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesLebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -
1,507.5 (2016 est.)
1,507.5 (2015 est.)
1,507.5 (2014 est.)
1,507.5 (2013 est.)
1,507.5 (2012 est.)