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September 03, 2019 | Sami Atallah, Nancy Ezzeddine and Jana Mourad
Capitalizing on Lebanon’s Comparative Advantage

The country’s manufacturing exports have been steadily decreasing, from a high of $5 billion in 2012 to $3.9 billion in 2017. Yet, there is very little policy discussion and effort among decision makers to actively boost Lebanon’s exports. Despite this decline, this brief, which is part of a three policy briefs series on manufacturing exports, shows that Lebanon has a comparative advantage in 337exported products out of a total of 1,147. These products make up 30% of the total exported products but amounted to $2.7 billion in2017, which is 70% of total exports. Although these items are spread across 16 sectors, agro-food and chemical products seem to have the highest untapped potential. To this end, Lebanon must capitalize on its comparative advantage to identify the markets for each of these products, so it can boost their exports with little change in its cost of production. A strong collaboration between the Ministry of Industry and the Association of Lebanese Industrialists is needed, to exploit the export of agro-food products in the Middle East, and chemical products in countries like India, Brazil, and Bangladesh, to name just a few.

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