In the dynamic world of economics, trade balances play a pivotal role in determining a country’s financial health. This visualization offers a clear and concise representation of Lebanon’s trade situation over the recent years, focusing on the comparison between the exports and imports of goods and services as a percentage of GDP.
Lebanon, a country with a rich trading history, has faced various economic challenges exacerbated by political instability and global market fluctuations. Understanding the trade trends is crucial for policy-makers, businesses, and academicians to assess the country’s economic resilience and to strategize for future growth.
These pie charts are a visual summary of the economic challenges faced by Lebanon in terms of trade. They underscore the need for strategic planning and diversified economic reform to build a more balanced and self-sufficient economic structure.
In 2019, the pie chart illustrates that imports considerably outweighed exports, indicating a trade deficit. This imbalance suggests that the country was consuming more than it was producing for external markets.
2020 shows a slight shift with the reduction in imports and a marginal increase in exports. This change could be indicative of various factors, such as a change in economic policy, a response to external economic pressures, or the impact of the global events of that year, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
By 2021, the gap between imports and exports continues to persist, although there’s a noticeable improvement in the trade balance, with exports comprising a larger section of the pie.
Lebanon is grappling with a trade deficit.
1- Diversification of Exports: Investing in diverse sectors to increase the range of goods and services for export.
2- Improving Domestic Production: Enhancing the quality and quantity of domestic production to reduce reliance on imports.
3- Trade Agreements: Entering into new trade agreements that favor Lebanese exports or revising existing ones to improve trade terms.
After working on these strategies developing these ideas, and through careful analysis and responsive policymaking, Lebanon can work towards a future where its exports and imports are in a healthier balance.
Lebanon’s economy witnessed a significant downturn starting in 2018, with its GDP plummeting from $54.9 billion in 2018 to $23.1 billion in 2021. This sharp decline underscored the urgent need for innovative and sustainable solutions to rejuvenate the nation’s economic framework.
The Crisis in Numbers
The financial crisis in Lebanon manifested in various alarming indicators. The country’s GDP annual growth rate took a nosedive from -1.88% in 2018 to a staggering -21.89% in 2020. This drastic reduction pointed towards a severe contraction in economic activities, investments, and consumption. Further exacerbating the situation was the soaring inflation rate, which reached 154.8% in 2020, eroding the purchasing power of the Lebanese people, destabilizing savings, and deepening economic hardships.
Agriculture: A Beacon of Hope
In the midst of this crisis, a potential solution emerged: leveraging Lebanon’s arable land, which constitutes 13.64% of the country’s total land area. Despite a slight increase in arable land over the past decade, the contribution of agriculture to Lebanon’s GDP witnessed a decline in 2020, signaling an underutilization of this vital resource.
Revitalizing Through Agricultural Enhancement
The proposed solution focuses on enhancing agricultural production. This can be achieved by diversifying crop production, adopting modern agricultural practices, and providing robust support to local farmers. Historically, the agricultural sector has received limited attention from credit bank managers due to perceived risks. Therefore, government incentives and subsidies could play a crucial role in encouraging agricultural growth and exports, thereby aiding in job creation and indirectly boosting the country’s GDP.
Sustainable Practices and Unique Opportunities
Lebanon’s diverse geography and microclimates offer a unique advantage for cultivating a variety of crops. The country’s rich agricultural heritage, featuring culturally significant crop varieties, coupled with sustainable farming practices, enhances the quality and marketability of its produce. The export potential of these unique crops holds promise for stimulating economic growth and fostering regional trade cooperation.
Concrete Steps Forward
Findings suggest that Lebanon’s agricultural sector harbors substantial growth potential, which remains largely untapped. Key recommendations include comprehensive agricultural policy reforms, investment in infrastructure, and promotion of sustainable practices. A collaborative approach involving the government, private sector, and international organizations is essential to effectively implement these recommendations.
Conclusion: A Vision for Recovery
Lebanon stands at a critical juncture where investing in agricultural production and harnessing the potential of its arable land can serve as a cornerstone for economic recovery. This strategy not only aims to enhance the country’s food exports and optimize resource use but also addresses the pressing issues of unemployment and GDP growth.
In essence, Lebanon’s journey towards economic resilience can be significantly bolstered by a strategic pivot to agriculture, tapping into the nation’s inherent strengths and fostering a sustainable and prosperous future.
Lebanon has been living one of the worst economic crises that a country has lived in the modern era. According to the World Bank , it is likely to rank among the top 10 most severe crises experienced globally since the 1850s. In this article, we will explore the impact of Lebanon’s economic collapse on the mental health of the Lebanese people, their productivity, and their forecasts of the country’s future. We will also try to discuss two potential measures that could mitigate its severe economic crisis.
The following graphs plotted in the dashboard were based on the UN World Indicators dataset. These graphs reflect the severity of the Lebanese collapse. The bar chart of Lebanon’s GDP per capital for the last ten years demonstrates that the country’s GDP has shrunk by 43% in two years only! To make things worse, the inflation rate line chart show that the country’s inflation rate has skyrocketed by 2724% in two years only! An item that cost 1000LBP in 2018 cost almost 27,240 LBP in 2020! For further details refer to the “Lebanon’s Economic Collapse in Numbers” dashboard.
These shocking numbers have motivated us to study the effect of the economic collapse on the Lebanese people’s mental health and productivity in addition to explore their insights about the future. Therefore, we designed a survey in which 370 people of different age and employment groups participated. The results were extremely alarming: 61% of the surveyed people said that their mental health was affected by the economic collapse while almost 60% of them revealed the negative impact of the crisis on their productivity. To make things worse, 69% of the respondents said that they wanted to leave Lebanon while 62% of them were pessimistic about the country’s future! Almost 1 in every 5 Lebanese said that there is no hope in Lebanon. On the other hand, almost half of the respondents said they would stay in Lebanon if the situation improved. The “Survey Dashboard” summarizes the survey’s results.
The Currency Board:
As Lebanon’s economy has been in crisis for almost two years now, ranked in possibly the top three most severe economic and financial crises since the nineteenth century, an ultimate solution does exist but is nearly impossible to achieve, replacing the ruling political parties. As ambitious young minds, we looked for practical solutions that we can possibly push for to help our country. A suggested solution from an economic perspective would be a currency board, a solution that has been implemented in countries that were facing a similar crisis to Lebanon such as Lithuania and Bolivia. A currency board is an entity separated from the central bank that is given the authority of managing the country’s currency reserves and fixing exchanges rates, it is regulated by law and not the government, hence limiting any pressure from political parties. Having a currency board would fix the inflation rate and trigger a domino effect on the economy by improving GDP, growth, and many other factors.
The “Currency Board Solution” dashboard below shows that there is a prompt decrease in the inflation rate after applying the currency board solution in the late 90s in Bulgaria, Estonia, and Lithuania, who’ve faced severe cases of hyperinflation just like Lebanon. Alongside the stability of the inflation rate over 20 years, GDP has shown a steady increase since the setup of the board as a result of inflation being stabilized. This shows how this solution has an immediate impact and could help Lebanon start the recovery process directly.
Obtaining then Commercializing IP to boost GDP:
Another solution for Lebanon’s current problem is obtaining then commercializing intellectual property; Given Lebanon’s rich human capital this seems like a reasonable solution. Also, by patenting Lebanon’s ideas, they can offset copycat competitors thus preserving Lebanon’s newly found income source, for a reasonable timeframe [till the patent expires]. Some of the metrics to measure a country’s participation in intellectual properties, at least from the World Bank World Development Indicator dataset are:
– Patent application, residents and Patent application, non-residents
o These were summed to a new metric: Patent Applications, Total
– Industrial design applications, resident by count and Industrial design applications, nonresident by count
o These too were summed to a new metric: Industrial design applications (Total)
– Trademark applications total
o No summing of several metrics was needed here
Besides generating high-value, and off-setting copycat competitors, plenty of the high-value wages in many fields are not energy-intensive; for instance, consider the designers of the iPhone package boxes at the Apple headquarters; these box designers literally sit in a room designing carton boxes, and these designers make more money than the overseas employees working in the energy-intensive factory manufacturing these boxes. This is a model that Lebanon who has high creativity but is experiencing an energy shortage can pursue.
And as the “Potential Solution: Patenting” dashboard demonstrates, we’re able to see that these three Intellectual property metrics are positively-correlated with GDP – so it is something that we believe Lebanon as a society should consider as a route to follow.
To conclude, it is true that Lebanon’s economic crisis has merged us into a dark tunnel from which it is not easy to get out of. However, with conscientious diligent ethical work, we can accelerate the recovery process. At the end, it is in our hands to decide whether we shall stay this obscure tunnel for a long time or encounter the light of salvation at its end as fast as possible.
If you’re reading this blog, you are more privileged than 78% of the Lebanese population! The United Nations stated that 78% live under the line of poverty in 2021. Let me walk you through all the evidences and solution. GDP per capita is a perfect metric to measure the economic conditions of a country’s citizens: Lebanon’s GDP per capita plunged to a negative 21% growth in 2020. However, a bigger problem looms over Lebanon: It is far from being able to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda, more specifically, section 8 related to economic factors. Section 8.1.1 in the 2030 Agenda requires all countries to sustain a 7% GDP per capita growth.
How can Lebanon Catch Up?
The answer is straightforward: Secure Foreign Funds! To secure such funds from international institutions like the IMF or World Bank, the Lebanese Government should implement quick local economic reforms.
The secured funds will then be used to transform Lebanon from a major importer to a major exporter. The funds must be invested in local production, tourism and domestic spending (infrastructure). This can definitely boost Lebanon’s GDP among several other reforms in different sectors.
Is it Really a Good Idea?
Many people are skeptical on borrowing from international institutions like the IMF due to the severity of their rules. However, let’s take Egypt as an example: Egypt increased IMF borrowings by 1,500% from 2015 till 2020 (yup, you read right, no additional zeros). The Egyptian government spent the funds on enforcing its local production and improving the tourism sector. As a result, Egypt met the UN’s Agenda 2030 economic goals and especially goal 8.1.1 (GDP per capita growth > 7%).
The one and only recommendation is for the Lebanese government: Implement the needed reforms, secure the foreign funds, invest them wisely and save Lebanon from the catastrophe!
At the dawn of the 1990s, the People’s Republic of China was a typical developing nation. The majority of its population lived in poverty mainly in rural areas. The country’s GDP per capita was $318 which was almost equal to that of the African nation of Mali ($317) and much less than the GDP per capita of the South American nation of Guyana ($533.5). However, the most challenging problem that the Asian dragon faced was the high infant mortality rate of 42.7 deaths per 1000 births which was considered high according to UN standards (12 deaths/1000 births). Since then, the government implemented ambitious and bold economic reforms and opened gradually its economy to the rest of the world. The country witnessed an influx of foreign investment that resulted in the increase of the nation’s GDP per capita from $318 in 1990 to $10,144 in 2019! Beijing took advantage of its miraculous economic growth by incrementing investment in its health system. It focused on health financing, human resource development and health information systems and promoted the equalization of health services including maternal and child health services. As a result, the infant mortality rate in China decreased from 42.7 deaths/1000 births in 1990 to 5.9 deaths/1000 births in 2019. In other words, China triumphed in decreasing its infant mortality rate by 86% in almost 20 years, an achievement that even the most developed nations of the world did not accomplish. China is the example of a nation that has benefited from its economic development to decrease infant mortality rate. In this way, it achieved target 3.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for countries to reach by 2030 -the ending of preventable deaths of newborns to less than 12; and most importantly achieved the health and welfare of its population.
Guo Y, Yin H. Reducing child mortality in China: successes and challenges. Lancet. 2016;387(10015):205-207. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00555-3