Bank Audi estimated Lebanon’s GDP growth in 2009 at 7 percent which was driven by both improved consumption and investment components. The bank, which released a full report on the performance of the Lebanese economy in 2009, said these estimates were in line with the projections of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).“With improving politico-economic conditions in the country, Lebanon’s economic and financial performance was outstanding amid an environment of global turmoil. Driven by both improved consumption and investment components, real GDP growth is estimated to have reached close to 7 percent in 2009, as per IMF preliminary estimates,” Audi said. It added that Lebanon was able to achieve this impressive growth during a year of net global contraction.
“Comparatively, regional growth is estimated at 2.2 percent while global growth is estimated at -0.8 percent by IMF estimates. It looks like the domestic consumption aggregate benefited from 2008’s wage adjustment on one hand and the significant incoming of Lebanese non-residents to their home land on the other hand. The domestic investment aggregate benefited in parallel from regained confidence in Lebanon’s short to medium term economic prospects, with growing capital spending by businesses and corporate,” Audi said.It added that the external environment contagion effects on Lebanon were limited. Lebanese exports maintained their same level of 2008, despite the shrinkage in global and regional foreign trade, as Lebanon exports mainly consist of necessity goods, not durable goods or luxury products that are highly sensitive to crisis environments. As for foreign direct investment, in a year of contracting cross border FDI because of the global liquidity squeeze, Lebanon has witnessed a positive FDI growth of 20 percent to $3.6 billion in the first 10 months of 2009.At the level of remittances, with capital inflows toward the home economy exceeding $20 billion, the balance of payments reported a record high surplus of $7.9 billion in 2009.As for tourism, the aggregate number of tourists rose by 39 percent in 2009, among the highest in the world, amid a globally contracting number of international travelers.
All major real-sector indicators registered positive growth in 2009, supporting the buoyant real growth performance. It noted that the growth of property sales value was up by 8.2 percent, cement deliveries up by 16.1 percent, merchandise at the Port up by 10.1 percent, passengers at the Airport up by 22.6 percent, cleared checks up by 7.4 percent), and de-taxed purchases up by 13 percent. Imports, accounting for 40 percent of domestic consumption and investment demand, managed to rise by 0.7 percent over the covered period, noting that such a growth rate reaches 13.5 percent in real terms, i.e. when adjusted for oil price and euro appreciation effects