Lebanon Economic Forecast

Lebanon Economic Outlook

May 7, 2019

Available data suggests that economic momentum has been tepid so far this year. In January and February, the coincident indicator—which measures economic activity—averaged lower than in Q4 2018, while credit to the private sector declined and the construction sector remained weak, as shown by annual falls in building permits and cement sales. Moreover, passenger arrivals through Beirut International Airport have been soft, suggesting the tourism sector is struggling. On the political front, discussions are under way over the 2019 budget, which will be a vital gauge of the government’s commitment to fiscal reform. However, the austerity measures required to put the public finances on an even keel could cause social unrest; small protests in recent weeks could be a sign of things to come.

Lebanon Economic Growth

Economic growth should accelerate this year. Improved confidence thanks to the government formation, and Central Bank stimulus measures—including the unveiling of USD 1 billion in subsidized loans in April—will support the economy. Nevertheless, growth will remain sluggish, and the dire fiscal situation will continue to weigh on the outlook. Our panelists expect the economy to grow 1.6% in 2019, down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s forecast, and 2.1% in 2020.

Lebanon Economy Data

20132014201520162017
Population (million)4.44.44.44.54.5
GDP per capita (USD)11,37111,80211,18811,293-  
GDP (USD bn)45.947.849.550.4-  
Economic Growth (GDP, annual variation in %)2.62.00.81.0-  
Unemployment Rate6.26.26.26.26.3
Fiscal Balance (% of GDP)-8.7-6.0-7.3-9.2-7.3
Public Debt (% of GDP)138139142151153
Inflation Rate (CPI, annual variation in %, eop)1.1-0.7-3.43.15.0
Inflation Rate (CPI, annual variation in %)4.81.9-3.8-0.84.5
Exchange Rate (vs USD)1,5081,5081,5081,5081,508
Current Account (% of GDP)-26.7-28.1-19.6-23.3-  
Trade Balance (USD billion)-15.3-17.5-15.0-15.4-15.9
Exports (USD billion)5.24.54.03.94.0
Imports (USD billion)20.522.119.019.419.9
Exports (annual variation in %)-7.9-12.2-12.5-1.32.4
Imports (annual variation in %)0.87.7-14.12.12.8
International Reserves (USD)36.739.538.843.343.5
External Debt (% of GDP)67.462.662.463.4-  

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Lebanon Facts

ValueChangeDate
Exchange Rate1,5080.0 %May 13
Stock Market8700.37 %May 13

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