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French Version


Lebanese industrialists at disadvantage (Daily Star)

Lebanese industrialists fear that the recent free trade agreement between Lebanon and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) may spell doom to the local manufacturing sector due to the high cost of local production.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Lebanese Industrialists Association urged the government to reconsider the trade agreement with the rich oil gulf states or cut the cost of utilities to allow local producers to compete with their gulf counterparts.

"We must admit that Lebanese manufacturers are a little envious of their counterpart in the countries of the GCC, because good things come easy in the Gulf," the statement said.

It added that the GCC communication ministers, meeting in Riyadh, agreed to cut telephone charges for one minute from $0.24 to $0.15, while the rate in Lebanon is $0.40 and still going strong.

"The initiative will add to the already substantial competitive advantage that GCC companies enjoy," the statement said.

Lebanese industrialists feel that they are losing their competitive edge every time the government signs a free trade agreement with Arab states.

"As part of the EU-Lebanon Association agreement, Europe acknowledges the fact that Lebanese firms need assistance to upgrade their competitiveness. That is why the Europeans have launched several assistance programs, worth millions of euros, to allow Lebanese manufacturers to seize the opportunities presented by the agreement.

Beirut 27-09-2004
Redaction
The Daily Star



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