An Austrian business delegation headed by the country’s President Alexander Van der Bellen explored with its Lebanese counterparts mutual investment opportunities during a forum held in Beirut Tuesday evening.
“We want to sell, we want to construct here,” Hannes Triebnik, from cable car company Doppelmayr Input, said.
“We have two to three potential projects. We already built the Jeita Grotto cable car and want to make new projects now, because the cable cars are all very old here. The potential is there but the investment is missing,” the head of infrastructure planning at the company said.
It was a clear message at the Austrian Lebanese Business Forum 2018 that there is great potential for Lebanese-Austrian trade relations.
Van der Bellen expressed Austria’s interest in offering its expertise in sectors that are part of the CEDRE conference: infrastructure, water, wastewater and electricity.
“I am sure that we will see a higher level of cooperation in these areas in the years to come,” he said, emphasizing that “there is always room to grow for both sides.”
Lebanon faces a balance of trade deficit of $15.9 billion, with its exports at nearly $4 billion and its imports at $19.9 billion.
This is also reflected in trade relations with Austria.
In 2017, Lebanon exported goods worth $2 million to Austria and imported $67 million worth.
Due to the similar morphology and geography of the both countries, caretaker Minister of State for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni sees the chance for Lebanon to gain from Austrian know-how in technologies. “We need mostly help in the hydraulic and electro-mechanical sectors,” he said.
The potential for these sectors is seen on both sides. “We hope that the Lebanese are interested, on a state level, to invest in Austrian quality products, and we know it’s about convincing Lebanese business people to put more awareness on Austrian goods in high technology,” Austrian Ambassador to Lebanon Marian Alexander Wrba said.
“There are [Austrian] companies interested in connecting with the Lebanese, because especially through the CEDRE conference plans and resources are provided, also from the EU, for the modernization of infrastructure, and we hope that within this procurement for the modernization of infrastructure, Austrian companies in consortium with Lebanese will get the chance,” the ambassador said.
Isabel Schmiedbauer, commercial counselor at the Austrian Embassy, emphasized that the Austrian Lebanese Business Forum should “create a platform so that companies from both countries can come together and connect.” She also highlighted Austrian know-how in infrastructure, tourism and renewable energy as of value for Lebanon.
Concrete potential for growth is seen by Fronius Middle East’s Managing Director Korayem Razik.
Speaking about the solar market in Lebanon, he said, “We have great representations and great project[s] done so far.”
The forum also showcased the long-lasting relations between the two countries.
The Daily Star