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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

After years of neglect, corruption, financial mismanagement and the war next door in Syria, the Lebanese economy spilled over into a full-blown crisis in 2019, sparking mass protests that demanded sweeping reforms. The economic crisis deteriorated further since, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rising public debt, a sovereign default, a currency collapse and an explosion at the port of Beirut. The traditional engines of growth in Lebanon (real estate, construction and tourism) have stalled and the banking sector, which until then had been praised for its resilience, has collapsed. According to the latest World Bank data, GDP contracted by 21.4% in 2020, 7% in 2021 and an estimated 5.4% in 2022, when foreign tourism increased by half compared to the previous year but net exports remained negative with imports growing at a faster pace than exports.

Significant tax revenue losses due to the shift towards a cash-based economy that contributed to an uptick in tax evasion and an inflation-driven increase in nominal GDP continued to drive a sharp decrease in revenues as a percentage of GDP, at 5% in 2022 against 7% for expenditure. Overall, the current account deficit was estimated at 14.2% of GDP. The debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 180.7% in 2022, up from 172.5% one year earlier, making Lebanon the third most indebted country in the world, after Japan and Greece (World Bank). Inflation has been surging in recent years: it averaged 186% in 2022, amongst the highest rates globally, on account of the reduced share of goods imported at Bank of Lebanon subsidized exchange rates and increased dollarization in the country’s economy. In the same year, net remittances accounted for 17.2% of GDP. Monetary and financial turmoil continues to drive crisis conditions: the interactions between the exchange rate, narrow money, and inflation continue to shape unstable macroeconomic dynamics. As pointed out by the IMF, Lebanon needs assistance to overcome its deep humanitarian, social, and economic crisis and to implement reforms to bring public finances into order, restructure public debt, rehabilitate the banking system, expand the social safety net, reform state-owned enterprises, and improve governance. On April 7, 2022, the Government of Lebanon and the IMF announced a staff-level agreement on a USD 3 billion, 46 months Extended Fund Arrangement (EFF), although securing IMF Board approval for the EFF will require the completion of ten prior preliminary agreements.

The country faces many humanitarian and social issues in addition to macroeconomic and political challenges. The massive influx of Syrian refugees (25% of the country's population) has shaken the country's demographic balance, labour market, and is putting pressure on the costs of rent, infrastructure and supply of public services such as water and electricity. Unemployment has skyrocketed following the inflow of Syrian refugees, which are competing with Lebanese workers in the informal sector and could hit over a quarter of the workforce. According to the World Bank, more than 60% of the country's young people are not in employment, education or training and over 70% of refugees live under the poverty line. The country faces significant social inequalities: in July 2022, the World Bank reclassified Lebanon as a lower-middle-income country, down from an upper-middle-income country. In the same year, the IMF estimated GDP per capita (PPP) at USD 11,377, while according to Human Rights Watch 78% of Lebanon's population was in poverty as of end-2021 - triple the estimated number in 2020.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 21.780.
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 3,2830000
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%) n/a0.
Current Account (billions USD) -
Current Account (in % of GDP) -

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

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Main Sectors of Industry

Lebanon has fertile lands and benefits from a moderate climate and abundant water resources. However, the agricultural sector is underdeveloped, and only contributes 1.4% of the GDP and 11% of employment (World Bank, latest data available). Key agricultural products include fruits (mainly apples, oranges, bananas and grapes, but also significantly olives) which account for around 30% of total agricultural production, and vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes and maize) which account for more than 60% of total production; whereas coffee is the main export product. Just 11% of Lebanon’s population lives in rural areas, but more than one-fifth of households in the agricultural sector are classified as very poor (IFAD). According to the latest figures from the Lebanese Center for Research and Agricultural Studies, the total value of Lebanon’s agricultural production in 2021 stood at about USD 1.3 billion, compared to USD 1.4 billion the year before, and down from more than USD 1.9 billion recorded before the pandemic.

Industry, which accounted for 12.8% of GDP in 2019, dropped to 6.9% of GDP in 2020 due to the COVID-related crisis and stood at just 2.8% in 2021, one of the lowest ratios in the world. It employs 24% of the workforce (data World Bank) and is dominated by the manufacturing of agricultural products, metals, minerals, furniture and other manufactured goods. Before the crisis, there were over 4,700 industrial firms in Lebanon, mainly in the manufacturing of agri-food products, followed by construction materials and chemical products.

Services are the dominant sector of the Lebanese economy, representing 94.1% of the country's GDP and employing 65% of the workforce. The banking sector was traditionally the mainstay of the economy, but it is going through a major crisis. Banking activity, even when it was sustained and lucrative, did not constitute real support for the private sector since most of the liquidity coming from banks is used to finance public debt. Tourism accounts for almost 20% of GDP and employs around 18% of the active population. The sector currently suffers from the serious economic and political crisis that the country is going through, although it showed signs of recovery in the first half of 2022 when the number of tourists doubled compared to the same period one year earlier.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 3.8 20.8 75.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.4 2.8 94.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) -7.1 -6.9 -4.9

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Lebanese Pound (LBP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1,507.501,507.501,507.501,507.503,555.00

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

The share of Lebanon’s foreign trade has been declining sharply in recent years and stood at nearly 79% of GDP in 2021, up from 50% one year earlier mostly due to the contraction in GDP (data World Bank). Lebanon mainly exports minerals (gold), diamonds, furniture, grapes, motor cars and ferrous waste and scrap. The country mainly imports mineral fuels (more than one-fourth of total imports), motor cars, gold, medicaments, and diamonds (data Comtrade 2021).

Lebanon’s main export partners are the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Cameroun, Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S.; whereas imports come chiefly from the EU (mainly Greece, Italy, Germany and France), Turkey, China, the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates (Comtrade).
The war in Syria, the drop in demand from countries in the region and the economic and political crisis in Lebanon are having a negative impact on Lebanese exports, while imports are also hindered by the lack of hard currency. The country's trade balance is structurally in deficit, a trend that should worsen in the upcoming future.
According to WTO data, in 2021 Lebanese merchandise exports stood at USD 4.5 billion as opposed to USD 13.8 billion in imports. No data is available for the trade in services; however, for the same year, the World Bank estimated the overall trade deficit to account for 26.8% of Lebanon’s GDP. According to preliminary data by the Bank of Lebanon, in the first half of 2022 exports of goods totalled USD 2.3 billion against USD 8.5 billion in imports; concerning trade in services, exports reached USD 3.6 billion vis-à-vis USD 2.7 billion in imports.

Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 20,39619,64111,35513,85719,503
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,8304,8294,0854,5904,370
Imports of Services (million USD) 14,32813,1574,8024,7410
Exports of Services (million USD) 15,61913,6734,9545,8470

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 68.568.363.050.178.8
Trade Balance (million USD) -14,459-14,912-13,454-6,584-8,343
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -13,130-13,621-12,938-6,432-7,236
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.11.3-9.5-46.0-12.2
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.9-4.7-0.9-53.713.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46.547.542.333.852.8
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 21.920.820.716.426.0

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change)
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Lebanon is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, Arab Fund for Economic and Development (AFESD), ICC, Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), G-24, G-77, Arab League, WTO, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Lebanon click here. International organisation membership of Lebanon is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Lebanon can be consulted here.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United Arab Emirates 23.3%
Türkiye 4.5%
Egypt 4.4%
Switzerland 4.1%
United States 4.0%
See More Countries 59.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 13.8%
Türkiye 12.4%
Greece 9.8%
Italy 5.8%
United States 5.0%
See More Countries 53.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data



Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Michel Awn (since 31 October 2016)
Prime Minister: Najib Mikati (since 10 September 2021)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2023
National Assembly: May 2026
Current Political Context
Lebanon is characterised by a high level of political instability, aggravated by a severe economic crisis. The political system aims at preserving the balance between the main religious groups. Parliamentary elections took place in May 2022, whose results produced a hung parliament with fragmented blocs and seats, with non-party affiliates earning a significant number of seats. The Lebanese Forces (Christian) and the protest opposition also gained seats, whereas Hizbullah’s allies lost some. Prime Minister Mikati, whose government went into caretaker mode upon parliamentary elections, was re-appointed as prime minister-designate in June 2022, with a new government yet to be formed. Moreover, President Aoun’s term ended on October 30th, leaving a void as the parliament has so far been unable to agree on his successor (as of January 2023, the Lebanese Parliament failed to elect a new president for the 11th time), resulting in an unprecedented institutional vacuum amid a dramatic economic and political situation.
Meanwhile, in October 2022, Lebanon and Israel – with the intermediation of the United States - reached a historic agreement to delimit their maritime borders. The agreement will likely bring relative stability on the security front and may allow Lebanon to begin the process of gas exploration.
Main Political Parties
Political forces are assigned by a fixed number of seats according to their religious denomination. They group to form electoral alliances, but such coalitions are weakly connected in practice. The main parties represented in the parliament are:

- Free Patriotic Movement: right-wing, christian democracy, civic nationalism
- Development and Liberation Bloc: coalition formed by the Amal Movement and the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
- Hezbollah: Shia Islamist political party and militant group
- Progressive Socialist Party: centre/centre-left, its confessional base is in the Druze sect
- Lebanese Forces: Christian-based and former militia during the Lebanese civil war, right-wing.

Executive Power
The President is the head of the state and is elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly and acts as the head of the government, to serve a four-year term. Though the Prime Minister enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs, the President also holds a strong and influential position which includes the promulgation of laws passed by parliament and ratification of treaties. The Cabinet is chosen by the Prime Minister in consultation with the President and members of the National Assembly. As per the constitution of the country, the President must be a Maronite Catholic Christian and the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Lebanon is unicameral. The parliament called National Assembly consists of 128 seats; with its members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation, with quotas according to religion,  to serve four-year terms. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The executive branch of the government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament nor can he veto its enactments. The Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shiite Muslim.


COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Lebanon, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.