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French Version


Industrialist asks Gulf to sell Lebanon discount oil

BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon's industrialists has called on oil-rich Middle East countries to sell their fuel to Lebanon at the local Gulf market rate as a step toward regional Arab economic integration.

President of the Lebanese Industrialists Association Fadi Abboud added cheaper fuel would reduce business costs which in turn would help alleviate Lebanese unemployment and poverty. At the same time Abboud said, access to fuel at the lower prices Gulf nations set for their own consumption would help Lebanon through what he called its current "crisis."

In a statement released yesterday, Abboud said: "Wouldn't it be fair to ask the Gulf countries to help their little brother Lebanon to buy fuel at the price they use locally in order to help him pass through the current crisis?"

Abboud said 1,000 liters of diesel sells for $100 in the Gulf but sells for $530 in Lebanon.

Abboud also called on Arab countries to help develop alternative air and sea trade routes for Lebanese exports to Iraq and the rest of the Gulf region.

His plea for fresh trade routes comes at the same time as hundreds of Lebanese trucks, filled with exports bound for the Gulf, have been stranded at the Syrian border for the last month following an increase in security checks by Syria's customs service.

The hold up is costing Lebanese businesses an estimated $300,000 per day, and although some trucks started moving across the border earlier this week, many are still unable to cross.The vast majority of Lebanese exports travel by road through Syria. Abboud said he sympathized with Damascus' security concerns, but called on the Syrian government to resolve the impasse.

He said: "Arab trade diplomacy is not present in the intentions or in the recent conversations with our brothers in Syria." Abboud said Arab countries already had the infrastructure for fresh air and sea trade routes since a number of Arab shipping and air freight companies regularly shipped goods around the region.

But up to now Lebanese companies have preferred to use road links for exports because it is a good deal cheaper than alternative means of transport.

He said: "For example, United Arab shipping is a collective Arab freight company that has ships and is owned by several Arab countries."

He added: "Arab airlines would do the job just as well."

Abboud said that even a temporary diversifying away from the almost exclusive use of road freight would also help Syria by alleviating the tension on its common frontiers with Lebanon.


Beirut 15-07-2005
Bechir Saade
Daily Star



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