Year over year, the value of overall products exported from Lebanon gained 11.1% from $3.81 billion for 2020.
Lebanon’s top 5 most valuable exports are unwrought gold, unset diamonds, miscellaneous furniture, fresh or dried grapes, and cars. That subset of products represent more than a third (37.6%) of the total revenues for all Lebanese exported goods in 2021.
Lebanon’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 69.3% of products exported from Lebanon were bought by importers in: the United Arab Emirates (24.3% of Lebanon’s global total), Switzerland (10.1%), Cameroon (6.7%), Qatar (4.8%), Egypt (4.1%), United States of America (3.6%), Saudi Arabia (3.03%), Iraq (2.96%), Turkey (2.7%), Syrian Arab Republic (2.5%), Greece (2.2%) and Kuwait (2.1%).
From a continental perspective, more than half (51%) of Lebanon’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 23% were sold to importers in Europe. Lebanon shipped another 20.1% worth of goods to Africa.
Smaller percentages went to North America (4.6%), Latin America (0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.5%) mainly Australia.
Given Lebanon’s population of 6.8 million people, its total $3.8 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $560 for every resident in the Middle Eastern nation. $560
Lebanon’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Lebanese global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Lebanon.
- Gems, precious metals: US$1 billion (24.7% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $404.9 million (9.6%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $338 million (8%)
- Vehicles: $245.6 million (5.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $180.9 million (4.3%)
- Iron, steel: $176.7 million (4.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $136 million (3.2%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $117 million (2.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $116.2 million (2.7%)
- Copper: $108.8 million (2.6%)
Lebanon’s top 10 exports accounted for just over two-thirds (67.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 517.1% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was fruits and nuts via a 233.5% advance.
Lebanon’s shipments of the metals iron and steel posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 86.7%.
The leading decliner among Lebanon’s top 10 export categories was the gems and precious metals grouping thanks to its -29.2% year-over-year drop. That decline was mainly caused by lower revenues from Lebanon’s exported gold and despite higher international sales of Lebanese diamonds.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, unwrought gold (10.7% of Lebanon’s global total) represents the most valuable Lebanese export product for 2021. In second place were unset diamonds (10%) trailed by miscellaneous furniture (7.3%), fresh or dried grapes (5.5%), cars (4.2%), iron or steel scrap (3.8%), jewelry (3.3%), copper scrap (2.4%), phosphatic fertilizers (1.7%), then electric generating sets or converters (1.4%).
Products Responsible for Lebanon’s Best Trade Surpluses
Itemized below are categories of Lebanese exported products that 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.
- Fruits, nuts: US$325.5 million (Up by 579.6% since 2020)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $239.2 million (Reversing a -$6 million deficit)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $75.1 million (Down by -12.9%)
- Copper: $57 million (Up by 46.7%)
- Lead: $49.8 million (Up by 13.5%)
- Fertilizers: $43.3 million (Up by 6,475%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $38.6 million (Up by 494.5%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $35.6 million (Up by 6.4%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: $12.3 million (Up by 90.8%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.3 million (Up by 21.7%)
Lebanon has highly positive net exports in the international trade of grapes. In turn, these cashflows indicate Lebanon’s strong competitive advantages under the fruits and nuts product category.
Products Causing Lebanon’s Largest Trade Deficits
Lebanon incurred an overall -$9.6 billion product trade deficit for 2021. That deficit reflects a 27.6% expansion from the amount of red ink from one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$3.9 billion (Up by 22% since 2020)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$859 million (Down by -24.3%)
- Vehicles: -$810 million (Up by 261.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$512.2 million (Up by 157.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$416.8 million (Down by -5.1%)
- Cereals: -$407.2 million (Up by 21.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$292.5 million (Up by 41.8%)
- Live animals: -$201.4 million (Down by -33.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$192.4 million (Reversing a $581.9 million surplus)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$164.6 million (Up by 118.8%)
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Lebanon’s total exported goods represent 5.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($82.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.1% ratio for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to an estimated 4.8% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Lebanon’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Lebanon’s unemployment rate averaged 6.6% for 2020, up from 6% one year earlier in 2019 according to Trading Economics.
Lebanon’s capital city is Beirut, nicknamed “Paris of the East”.
See also Grapes Exports by Country, Gold Exports by Country Plus Average Prices, Diamond Exports by Country and UAE’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on Middle East: Lebanon. Accessed on July 26, 2022
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Lebanon. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Forbes 2021 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on July 26, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Lebanon. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Lebanon. Accessed on July 26, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 26, 2022
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Beirut, Lebanon. Accessed on July 26, 2022