Sales in Lebanon
Reaching the Consumers
- Consumer Behavior
- In Lebanon, the existence of a good quality after sales service is a determining factor when people decide to buy. In 2005, the government implemented a new law which obliges companies set up in Lebanon to have certain mechanisms for consumer protection. In addition, the Lebanese are more attracted to products with high levels of innovation, especially in the field of new information technologies. Furthermore, price is a determining factor when people decide to buy.
- Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
- 66.8% of Lebanese population is in the range of 15 to 64 years, with an average age of 28.8 years. Open-minded and attracted by foreign products, especially from Europe and America, Lebanese have acquired a sophisticated taste. This can be seen by the many global brands present in the country.
Over the last few years, many Asian products are highly prized by people of medium and lower income and have invaded the market.
- Consumers Associations
- Association for the protection of Lebanese consumers , no website but it supported by the Lebanese Chambre of Commerce
- Main Advertising Agencies
- Directory of advertising agencies in Lebanon.
Advertising agency on Internet.
Distributing a Product
- Evolution of the Sector
- The main actor on the Lebanese market is the importer who plays the role of an agent and benefits from a network of retailers. He is in charge of marketing, concluding sales contracts, etc. The wholesale trade is carried out by the biggest Lebanese importers. Breaking into the Lebanese market with the help of a local agent is strongly recommended. The commercial representation contract is governed by decree n° 34 dated 5 August 1967. In additon, commerce on Internet is beginning to develop in Lebanon. There are already services of on-line stores, auctions... but they are limited by the fact that there is not yet any appropriate legislation to protect transactions. In 2004 the European Union set up a project with Lebanon to develop e-commerce; the initiative is called ecomleb.org. But the population does not trust this type of transaction yet and as telecommunications costs are high, e-commerce remains limited but can potentially grow in the next few years. Franchising is one of the Lebanese economic sectors with the highest growth. All the big international names are present in the country. In the catering field there are KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Hard rock café..., in the field of clothing there are Zara, Massimo Dutti..., and in other fields we find: Hertz, New Horizons.... Since 2007, a Lebanese Franchise Association has been created to help franchises in the country to develop in the region.
- Market Shares
- Concerning inside trade, modern distribution networks become more and more common. Super and hypermarkets, malls and similars represent 30-35%of the currant cosumption. There are about 90 hypermarkets with regional and international names such as Monoprix, Casino Geant, Spinneys, BHV. Added to to that there about 300 small businesses and thousands of grocer's.
- Organizations in the Retail Sector
- The American agency for trade promotion's document about Lebanon.
Market Access Procedures
- International Conventions
- Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
- Main International Economic Cooperation
- Lebanon is a country traditionally open to trade. Its efforts are concentrated, from this point of view, on three areas: the European Union, the United States and the other Arab countries. It has signed a framework agreement with the United States to favor trade and investment between the two countries. It has been trying for many years to join the World Trade Organization and since 1999 has had observer status. Its relations with the European Union are privileged; there is an association agreement between the two entities, also called Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which provides especially for the creation of a free trade area between Lebanon (as part of the agreement) and the European Union by 2014. Lebanon is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area. It has signed numerous bilateral free trade agreements with Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq notably.
- Non Tariff Barriers
- Less than 1% of imported products are subject to trade restrictions (license, technical, medical or phytosanitary certificates...) which can be similar to non tariff barriers. Importing some products, like arms for example, is forbidden in Lebanon even if they are only in transit. All these restrictions can be consulted on the website of the Lebanese Customs. In addition, Lebanon applies the boycott decided by the Arab League against Israeli products and some foreign companies may be blacklisted if they are thought to be helping the military development of that country. However, the boycott is relative since a considerable number of prohibited products can be found on the Lebanese market today.
- Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
- Customs duties vary depending on the nature of goods and their origin. Surcharges may be applied on certain products such as textiles, alcoholic beverages, motor vehicles etc.. These tariffs are set by the Lebanese customs.
- Customs Classification
- The Customs system is the Harmonized System of Brussels.
- Import Procedures
- Any customs declaration must include the following documents
- an original invoice
- a detailed item/product list if the bill does not include details
- a copy of the bill of lading or other document replacing it;
- The certificate of origin in accordance with customs regulations or bilateral or collective agreements signed with Lebanon
- any other document required by law and regulations (proof of payment etc ...).
For more information on the other documents or the procedures required by the other authorities such as the measures of prohibition, the import license, the certificates and all other conditions, it is necessary to refer to the "Restrictions and Prohibitions-Circular 1" accessible on the website of the Lebanese customs and from the offices customs.
- Importing Samples
- Samples with no commercial value are exempt from Customs duty.
- For Further Information
- Lebanese Customs
Organizing Goods Transport
- Main Useful Means of Transport
- The means of goods transport in Lebanon are diversified.
Ground transport: Lebanon is endowed with 2 international freeways, one following the coast from north to south and the second eastward, "the Arabic freeway". There is also an archaic railroad line which was severely damaged by the civil war, the reconstruction of which would be difficult because of the violations of private property on this line.
Sea transport: there are several ports. Currently among them, the two mostly operated are the port of Beirut and the port of Tripoli
Air transport: Beirut International Airport was reconstructed during the 90's, with a capacity of 6 million passengers and is the only international airport in the country. The Trans-Mediterranean Airways - TMA based at Beirut airport is the only one authorized in the transport of cargoes.
- Port of Tripoli (website available in Arabic only).
Port of Beirut website.
- Beirut airport website
- Sea Transport Organizations
- Beirut Port Authority
- Air Transport Organizations
- Lebanese Civil Aviation website.
- Road Transport Organizations
- The website of the Ministry of Works and Transport is unavailable.
Identifying a Supplier
- Type of Production
- The Lebanese industry is one of the most important sector for the economy of the country because it is a source of employment. The main challenge will be to maintain high employment level while maintaining the competitive operator in an unfavourable economic situation. This sector is less diversified than other ten sub-sectors which compose it and with which we are the most common:
- Plastic Industry: The main companies produce containers, tubes, household items or promotional material . Some of them are very competitive and have set up subsidiaries abroad;
-Textile Industry: mainly represented by spinning, tisserant and prêt à porter industries. This activity is very export oriented and more than 50% of production is sold abroad
- Furnishing Industry: thanks to sustained domestic demand, the major companies have set up modern production units and are now internationalising their market;
- Paper industry: this sector has also invested a great quantity in modernising production tools;
- Marble industry: due to a state-of-the-art equipment, this industry grew with the domestic demand engendered by the reconstruction. It exports now to the Gulf and to Europe;
- Cement industry: it was the main industrial production after the war. It decreased henceforth considering the realisation already operated for the main projects of infrastructure.
The biggest companies, employing more than 50 persons, represent less than 1 % of the total number of industries in the country. Furthermore, the Lebanese industry is mainly detained by families and thus very fragmented. One of the major challenge in this sector will be to improve the quality of the production. Indeed, the regional competition is strong, in particular after the opening of certain bordering countries such as Syria and Jordan. Simultaneously, the production costs of Lebanese products are high and make them uncompetitive in the export. High costs are due to the workforce education level, often high, the cost of social security contribution and energy costs.
- Business Directories
- Lebanese business website.
Lebweb , Directory of websites concerning business in Lebanon.
Lebanesemal , Lebanese website with a directory of business websites.
- Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
- Association of Lebanese industrialists
- Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
- Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Lebanon
American Chamber of Commerce in Lebanon
- Enterprises Federation
- Directory listing the main associations of companies in Lebanon.
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For a peace of mind in good times and bad, trade credit insurance prevails as one of the most important tools to facilitate and secure domestic and export commercial transactions, says Mr Karim A Nasrallah of The Lebanese Credit Insurer.
Gabrielle Saade, Consultant on 7 May 2012 related to Sales in Lebanon