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    Lebanon Economy 2000

      Economy - overview: The 1975-91 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Peace has enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon's economy has made impressive gains since the launch of "Horizon 2000," the government's $20 billion reconstruction program in 1993. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994 and 7% in 1995 before Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 stunted economic activity. Real GDP grew at an average annual rate of less than 3% per year for 1997 and 1998 and only 1% in 1999. During 1992-98, annual inflation fell from more than 100% to 5%, and foreign exchange reserves jumped to more than $6 billion from $1.4 billion. Burgeoning capital inflows have generated foreign payments surpluses, and the Lebanese pound has remained relatively stable. Progress also has been made in rebuilding Lebanon's war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. Solidere, a $2-billion firm, is managing the reconstruction of Beirut's central business district; the stock market reopened in January 1996; and international banks and insurance companies are returning. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has had to fund reconstruction by tapping foreign exchange reserves and boosting borrowing. Reducing the government budget deficit is a major goal of the LAHUD government. The stalled peace process and ongoing violence in southern Lebanon could lead to wider hostilities that would disrupt vital capital inflows. Furthermore, the gap between rich and poor has widened in the 1990's, resulting in grassroots dissatisfaction over the skewed distribution of the reconstruction's benefits and leading the government to shift its focus from rebuilding infrastructure to improving living conditions.

      GDP: purchasing power parity - $16.2 billion (1999 est.)

      GDP - real growth rate: 1% (1999 est.)

      GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,500 (1999 est.)

      GDP - composition by sector:
      agriculture: 12%
      industry: 27%
      services: 61% (1998 est.)

      Population below poverty line: 28% (1999 est.)

      Household income or consumption by percentage share:
      lowest 10%: NA%
      highest 10%: NA%

      Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.5% (1999 est.)

      Labor force: 1.3 million (1999 est.)
      note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (1997 est.)

      Labor force - by occupation: services 62%, industry 31%, agriculture 7% (1997 est.)

      Unemployment rate: 18% (1997 est.)

      Budget:
      revenues: $4.9 billion
      expenditures: $8.36 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)

      Industries: banking; food processing; jewelry; cement; textiles; mineral and chemical products; wood and furniture products; oil refining; metal fabricating

      Industrial production growth rate: NA%

      Electricity - production: 9.7 billion kWh (1998)

      Electricity - production by source:
      fossil fuel: 90.72%
      hydro: 9.28%
      nuclear: 0%
      other: 0% (1998)

      Electricity - consumption: 9.629 billion kWh (1998)

      Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

      Electricity - imports: 608 million kWh (1998)

      Agriculture - products: citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats

      Exports: $866 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

      Exports - commodities: foodstuffs and tobacco, textiles, chemicals, metal and metal products, electrical equipment and products, jewelry, paper and paper products

      Exports - partners: Saudi Arabia 12%, UAE 10%, France 9%, Syria 7%, US 7%, Kuwait 4%, Jordan, Turkey (1998)

      Imports: $5.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

      Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, textiles, metals, fuels, agricultural foods

      Imports - partners: Italy 12%, France 10%, US 9%, Germany 9%, Switzerland 6%, Japan, UK, Syria (1998)

      Debt - external: $8.8 billion (1999 est.)

      Economic aid - recipient: $3.5 billion (pledges 1997-2001)

      Currency: 1 Lebanese pound = 100 piasters

      Exchange rates: Lebanese pounds per US$1 - 1,507.5 (January 2000), 1,507.8 (1999), 1,516.1 (1998), 1,539.5 (1997), 1,571.4 (1996), 1,621.4 (1995)

      Fiscal year: calendar year

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