Líban flag Líban: Visió econòmica i política

El context econòmic de Líban

Economic Indicators

After years of neglect, corruption, financial mismanagement and the war next door in Syria, the Lebanese economy entered a full-blown crisis in 2019, sparking mass protests that demanded sweeping reforms. The economic crisis deteriorated further since, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rising public debt, a sovereign default, a currency collapse and an explosion at the port of Beirut. The traditional engines of growth in Lebanon (real estate, construction and tourism) have stalled and the banking sector, which until then had been praised for its resilience, has collapsed. Between 2022 and early 2023, the economy experienced a temporary stabilization after undergoing significant contraction in previous years, primarily attributed to the contributions of tourism and substantial remittances. According to the World Bank’s projections, the Lebanese economy was expected to see a modest growth of 0.2% in 2023, a positive projection for the first time since 2018, driven by a successful summer tourism season, strong remittances supporting consumption growth, and increasing dollarization of salaries. Signs of ongoing stabilization in private sector activity further contributed to the positive economic outlook. Nevertheless, with the onset of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and its repercussion in Lebanon, the latest estimates projected a recession in 2023 (-0.6% to -0.9%, depending on the extent of the tourism shock).

In 2023, the fiscal and primary deficits narrowed to an estimated 1.3% and 0.3% of GDP, respectively (World Bank). With the successful implementation of planned revenue measures, revenues reached 8.8% of GDP. However, expenditures, driven by increased current spending, transfers to Électricité du Liban, and the continuation of social assistance schemes for public servants, rose to 10.1% of GDP. With a sharp currency depreciation and economic contraction, sovereign debt stood at 179.2% of GDP in 2022 (latest data available), highlighting its unsustainability without comprehensive debt restructuring. However, since the default on sovereign debt on March 9, 2020, minimal advancements have been made in formulating a debt restructuring strategy or reaching an agreement with foreign creditors. Gross foreign currency reserves have increased by USD 425 million between end-July and mid-November 2023, reaching USD 14,213 million (World Bank). The temporary economic stabilization had a ripple effect on the exchange rate, which experienced a temporary steadiness. This stability was influenced by reduced demand for dollars due to widespread dollarization in the economy. In 2023, inflation surged to around 230%, primarily due to the ongoing decline in the overall macroeconomic conditions. This acceleration was predominantly influenced by the depreciation of the exchange rate in the first half of 2023 and the rapid dollarization of economic transactions, especially within the components of the consumer price index basket.

The country faces many humanitarian and social issues in addition to macroeconomic and political challenges. The massive influx of Syrian refugees (25% of the country's population) has shaken the country's demographic balance and labour market, and is putting pressure on the costs of rent, infrastructure and supply of public services such as water and electricity. Unemployment has skyrocketed following the inflow of Syrian refugees, which are competing with Lebanese workers in the informal sector and could hit over a quarter of the workforce. According to the World Bank, more than 60% of the country's young people are not in employment, education or training and over 70% of refugees live under the poverty line. The country faces significant social inequalities: in 2022, the World Bank reclassified Lebanon as a lower-middle-income country, down from an upper-middle-income country. In 2023, the IMF estimated GDP per capita (PPP) at USD 11,794, while according to Human Rights Watch 78% of Lebanon's population was in poverty as of end-2021 - triple the estimated number in 2020.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 21.780.
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 3,2830000
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -7.860.
Current Account (in % of GDP) -

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Lebanon has fertile lands and benefits from a moderate climate and abundant water resources. However, the agricultural sector is underdeveloped and only contributes 1.4% of the GDP and 4% of employment (World Bank, latest data available). Key agricultural products include fruits (mainly apples, oranges, bananas and grapes, but also significantly olives) which account for around 30% of total agricultural production, and vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes and maize) which account for more than 60% of total production; whereas coffee is the main export product. Just 11% of Lebanon’s population lives in rural areas, but more than one-fifth of households in the agricultural sector are classified as very poor (IFAD). According to the latest figures from FAO, the total cereal production for 2023 was projected at around 134,000 tonnes, approximately 5% lower than the five-year average. This figure is in proximity to the harvests of 2022 and 2021, which were already impacted by the ongoing economic crisis.

Industry, which accounted for 12.5% of GDP in 2019, dropped to 6.6% in 2020 due to the COVID-related crisis and stood at just 2.8% in 2021, one of the lowest ratios in the world. It employs 21% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available) and is dominated by the manufacturing of agricultural products, metals, minerals, furniture and other manufactured goods. The primary manufacturing sub-sectors comprise food industries, constituting approximately 19% of the total number of firms, followed by plastic and chemicals at 14%, paper and packaging as well as minerals at 11% (Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies).

Services are the dominant sector of the Lebanese economy, representing 94.1% of the country's GDP and employing 75% of the workforce. The banking sector was traditionally the mainstay of the economy, but it is going through a major crisis. Banking activity, even when it was sustained and lucrative, did not constitute real support for the private sector since most of the liquidity coming from banks is used to finance public debt. Tourism accounts for almost 20% of GDP and employs around 18% of the active population. The sector currently suffers from the serious economic and political crisis that the country is going through, although it showed signs of recovery: according to the Ministry of Tourism, Lebanon welcomed 1,404,768 tourists in the first nine months of 2023, marking a 25.3% increase from the same period in 2022 and a significant 113.2% surge from 2021.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 3.8 20.8 75.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.4 2.8 94.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) -7.1 -6.9 -4.9

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Actualitzacions: July 2024

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