An Italian-Lebanese joint-venture that will manufacture and export high-quality electric and electronic products opened its factory in Zahle Friday. Meta Lebanon, a partnership between Italian company Ave Spa and Lebanese A&G Holding, is the first of its kind in the field of production, rather than just a nominal one.
Through this partnership, the Italian company not only provides a cash injection as the majority shareholder but also aims to bring expertise to Lebanon, train local staff, produce locally and export its products from Lebanon.
Located in Zahle Industrial City, the plant of Meta Lebanon will produce keys, accessories and electrical equipment. Developed with a capital of 2.5 million euros ($2.8 million), the company is starting with 40 employees and is expected to reach 120 employees in the near future.
Meta Lebanon aims to fill the “big” gap situated between low-cost Chinese and high-cost and quality European products, Ave’s export sales director Tommaso Belli said.
“Why should people still buy a poor quality product imported from China when for only the extra cost of a pizza they can deck out an entire apartment with a European certified product instead?” Belli quipped.
Meta Lebanon selected the city of Zahle due to its 24/7 availability of electricity, the fact that it is a secure industrial zone and close to the Syrian market.
In addition to the owners of the companies, the opening ceremony was held in the presence of Italian Ambassador Massimo Marotti, Marie-Therese Hobeich, representative of Industry Minister Wael Abou Faour and a group of industrialists.
Marotti praised the initiative, stressing that “this FDI [foreign direct investment] from Italy is a sign of confidence between the private sector in Italy and Lebanon and an encouraging step that could pave the way for other productive investments in Lebanon.”
“Italy is directly supporting the efforts of the Lebanese Industry Ministry to establish new industrial zones in Lebanon that contribute to the creation of new jobs, and Italy is financing this major development project jointly with the European Investment Bank and international financial institutions,” he said.
Marotti, who told The Daily Star that Lebanon was, is and will be a high-priority country, elaborated on the importance of this venture for future investment in Lebanon. “It will set a good model for many. It is an effective proof that Italy trusts Lebanon’s capacity to again be a place for manufacturing and exporting quality products at very competitive prices.”
Ave Spa owner Alessandro Belli said that he chose Lebanon because of its unique geographical location as a “gateway to the Middle East” and its exporting possibilities as a small country. And it has now become a quiet country, a “no problems” country, Belli told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the ceremony.
Joseph Maalouf, owner of A&G, who convinced Ave Spa to open a factory in Lebanon rather than in Jordan, called the venture “unprecedented” and hoped that it would inspire not only foreign investors but also Lebanese investors to take more risks. “I only can say, the Lebanese investors that are cowards or don’t want to put money in Lebanon, they should look at this achievement and the Italians that trusted the Lebanese market more than they do and this is very symbolic. The Italians trust their country while they are not,” he said.
The Daily Star