Lebanon’s Top 10 Exports

Lebanese flag (courtesy of FlagPictures.org)

Lebanese flag (FlagPictures)

A sovereign state in Western Asia bordered by Syria and Israel, the Lebanese Republic shipped US$3.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 15.6% increase since 2014 and a 16.5% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

The latest data shows that 60.7% of products exported from Lebanon were bought by importers in: United Arab Emirates (13.7% of the global total), Syria (6.2%), Saudi Arabia (5.9%), Turkey (5.2%), Qatar (4.9%), Iraq (4.6%), South Africa (also 4.6%), Egypt (3.9%), Switzerland (3.5%), China (3.1%), Greece (2.7%) and Jordan (2.4%).

From a continental perspective, about 57% of Lebanese exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 21% were sold to African importers. Lebanon shipped another 18% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to North America (2.7%), Latin America (0.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia.

Given Lebanon’s population of 6.1 million people, its total $3.8 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $630 for every resident in the Middle Eastern nation.

In macroeconomic terms, Lebanon’s total exported goods represent 4.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($89.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 4.7% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Lebanon’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Lebanon also provided $15.4 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 17.2% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Trading Economics projects Lebanon’s unemployment rate to be 6.6% at July 2019.

Lebanon’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Lebanese global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Lebanon.

  1. Gems, precious metals: US$661 million (17.3% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $375.7 million (9.8%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $288.4 million (7.5%)
  4. Vehicles: $268.8 million (7%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $187.5 million (4.9%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $176.6 million (4.6%)
  7. Perfumes, cosmetics: $131.2 million (3.4%)
  8. Iron, steel: $123.3 million (3.2%)
  9. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $104.8 million (2.7%)
  10. Copper: $95.5 million (2.5%)

Lebanon’s top 10 exports accounted for 63% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 793.6% from 2017 to 2018 mainly propelled by higher international sales of refined petroleum oils.

In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment which appreciated 73.8%.

Lebanese shipments of plastics and articles made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 40.3% increase.

The sole decliner among the top 10 Lebanese exported product categories was vehicles, thanks to its -56.9% drop year over year.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, processed petroleum oils (9.7% of total) represented Lebanon’s most valuable export product for 2018. In second place were shipments of gold (7.6%) trailed by unmounted diamonds (7.5%), cars (6.3%), electric generating sets or converters (3.3%), iron or steel scrap (3.1%), copper waste or scrap (2.3%) then jewelry (1.7%).


Eight categories of Lebanese exported products generated positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Lead: US$30.6 million (Up by 8.8% since 2017)
  2. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $25.5 million (Up by 15.3%)
  3. Fertilizers: $19.7 million (Up by 121.3%)
  4. Books, newspapers, pictures: $14.5 million (Down by -46.2%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $4.2 million (Reversing an -$11.3 million deficit)
  6. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.7 million (Up by 14.9%)
  7. Collector items, art, antiques: $2.5 million (Reversing a -$1.6 million deficit)
  8. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $984,000 (Up by 137.1%)

Lebanon has highly positive net exports in the international trade of lead and miscellaneous items made from lead. In turn, these cashflows indicate Lebanon’s strong competitive advantages under the lead product category.


Overall Lebanon incurred a -$16.6 billion product trade deficit for 2018. That deficit reflects an 18.2% expansion in red ink from one year earlier.

Below are exports from Lebanon that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Lebanon’s goods trail Lebanese importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$4 billion (Up by 21.9% since 2017)
  2. Vehicles: -$1.4 billion (Up by 36.6%)
  3. Pharmaceuticals: -$1.3 billion (Up by 13.6%)
  4. Machinery including computers: -$1.1 billion (Up by 15.2%)
  5. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$808.5 million (Up by 48.8%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: -$591.8 million (Up by 82.4%)
  7. Iron, steel: -$549.4 million (Up by 11.7%)
  8. Plastics, plastic articles: -$456.5 million (Up by 0.7%)
  9. Live animals: -$408.8 million (Up by 41.1%)
  10. Dairy, eggs, honey: -$353.1 million (Up by 25.9%)

Lebanon has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, notably for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases and petroleum coke.


Lebanese Export Companies

Two regional banks headquartered in Lebanon rank among Forbes Global 2000, namely Bank Audi and Blom Bank.

Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Lebanon. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Bonjus (juice)
  • Château Musar (winery)
  • IXSIR wine (winery)
  • Massaya (winery, distillery)
  • Middle East Airlines (airliner)
  • Tabbah (jewelry)


Lebanon’s capital city is Beirut, nicknamed “Paris of the East”.

See also Top Middle Eastern Export Countries, Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports and Bahrain’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on Middle East: Lebanon. Accessed on April 6, 2019

FlagPictures.org, Flag of Lebanon. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 6, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 3, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 3, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 3, 2019

Wikipedia, Lebanon. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Lebanon. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 3, 2019

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Beirut, Lebanon. Accessed on April 6, 2019