|USAID pledges support for Lebanon's World Trade Organization entry bid
|The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged technical assistance for Lebanon in support of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
On Thursday, the Economy and Trade Minister Sami Haddad and USAID's Lebanon mission director Raouf Youssef signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
After the signing, Haddad said: "Lebanon's accession to the WTO constitutes a basic step for trade liberalization and reinforcing the competition capacity of the Lebanese economy."
Regarding the accession procedure, Haddad said: "The ministry has prepared six draft laws that have been referred to Parliament awaiting approval and has responded to more than 800 questions raised by the member states in the WTO."
USAID's Lebanon mission director Raouf Youssef said: "USAID has been following up the accession process from the start and is still continuing to do so."
"The value of the technical assistance given by USAID amounts to $ 5 million through which the Economy and Trade Ministry was supported with the information and the technical expertise relating to WTO accession," Youssef said.
Challenges to joining the body include the implementation of intellectual property protection laws, combating the piracy of television programs, protecting pharmaceutical products and enacting laws required by the accession process.
Further assistance for Lebanon came when two loan agreements from the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) were signed totalling $ 26 million.
The Council for Development and Reconstruction said in a statement it had signed two loan agreements with the SDF. The first loan agreement is worth $ 15 million to fund road projects in Akkar.
The second loan, worth $ 11 million, is designated for funding roads in Iqlim al-Kharroub to link the towns and villages with the coastal area - especially Sidon and Beirut.
The Daily Star