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French Version

Lebanese exports to Europe up thanks to euro

Lebanese exports to Europe improved in the past few years thanks to the appreciation of the euro, according to a report issued by the head of the United Nations Development Program at the Finance Ministry in collaboration with the InfoPro Center for Economic Information.

"Total exports more than doubled from 2000 to 2003. As a share of Gross Domestic Product, they gradually improved from 4.35 percent of GDP in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2003," the report said.

The euro currency is currently traded at $1.3069.

The so called Euro zone suffered tremendously in the past few years as a result of the unchecked appreciation of the euro currency against the U.S. dollar and Japanese Yen.

Many countries that use U.S. dollars as a main currency benefited from the surge of the euro, particularly some Asian states.

Lebanon was among the lucky countries which saw its volume of exports rise.

The report said that Lebanon's main exporting partner has always been the Arab countries.

"Switzerland has emerged as Lebanon's second exporting partner in recently years, especially in 2003 when it absorbed 25 percent of Lebanon's exports."

Exports to Europe have hovered around an annual average of $130 million, compared to an annual average of $470 million for Arab countries.

However, euro appreciation dealt a blow to European imports to Lebanon.

"The euro appreciation negatively affected Lebanon's imports from the Euro zone since all of the major products imported from the Euro zone either decreased or increased by less than 20 percent," the report said.

The report indicated that government revenues from the Value Added Tax were positively affected by the euro appreciation.

However, certain government expenditures were negatively affected by the euro appreciation as it became more expensive to purchase some European made goods.

On the banking side, the report said that the euro appreciation did not really encourage depositors to transfer their accounts from dollars to euros.

Beirut,04 25 2005
Osama Habib
The Daily Star
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