Lebanon Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

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 inadequate intellectual property rights protection. 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 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. The "CEDRE" investment event hosted by France in April 2018 again rallied the international community to assist Lebanon with concessional financing and some grants for capital infrastructure improvements, conditioned upon long-delayed structural economic reforms in fiscal management, electricity tariffs, and transparent public procurement, among many others.

The Syria conflict cut off one of Lebanon's major markets and a transport corridor through the Levant. The influx of nearly one million registered and an estimated 300,000 unregistered Syrian refugees has increased social tensions and heightened competition for low-skill jobs and public services. Lebanon continues to face several long-term structural weaknesses that predate the Syria crisis, notably, weak infrastructure, poor service delivery, institutionalized corruption, and bureaucratic over-regulation. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the third highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. These factors combined to slow economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-17, after four years of averaging 8% growth. 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, limiting its ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation. In early 2018, the Lebanese government signed long-awaited contract agreements with an international consortium for petroleum exploration and production as part of the country’s first offshore licensing round. Exploration is expected to begin in 2019.

Real GDP growth rate

1.5% (2017 est.)

1.7% (2016 est.)

0.2% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.8% (2019 est.)

6% (2018 est.)

4.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: RD (2020)

Moody's rating: C (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: D (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$99.761 billion (2019 est.)

$106.925 billion (2018 est.)

$109.025 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 91

GDP (official exchange rate)

$53.253 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$14,552 (2019 est.)

$15,612 (2018 est.)

$16,005 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 116

Gross national saving

-3.1% of GDP (2019 est.)

-4% of GDP (2018 est.)

-1.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 13.1% (2017 est.)

services: 83% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 87.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.8% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 23.6% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -46.4% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 54.3 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 78.2 (2020)

Trading score: 57.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 50.8 (2020)

Agricultural products

potatoes, milk, tomatoes, apples, oranges, olives, wheat, cucumbers, poultry, lemons


banking, tourism, real estate and construction, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating

Industrial production growth rate

-21.1% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Labor force

2.166 million (2016 est.)

note: excludes as many as 1 million foreign workers and refugees

country comparison to the world: 120

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 39% NA (2009 est.)

industry: NA

services: NA

Unemployment rate

9.7% (2007)

country comparison to the world: 144

Population below poverty line

27.4% (2011 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

31.8 (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA


revenues: 11.62 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 15.38 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

21.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 193

Public debt

146.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

145.5% of GDP (2016 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 intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment

country comparison to the world: 4

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$12.37 billion (2017 est.)

-$11.18 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195


$3.524 billion (2017 est.)

$3.689 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 130

Exports - partners

Switzerland 27%, United Arab Emirates 15%, South Korea 11%, Saudi Arabia 7%, Kuwait 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, jewelry, shotguns, diamonds, scrap copper (2019)


$18.34 billion (2017 est.)

$17.71 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 11%, China 10%, Italy 8%, Greece 8%, Turkey 7%, United States 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, packaged medicines, jewelry, gold (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$55.42 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$54.04 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Debt - external

$33.077 billion (2019 est.)

$33.655 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Exchange rates

Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -

1,517.5 (2020 est.)

1,513 (2019 est.)

1,506.5 (2018 est.)

1,507.5 (2014 est.)

1,507.5 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Lebanon on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Lebanon 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Lebanon 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.