Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Wednesday that Lebanon’s industrial sector can grow considerably and create over 50,000 jobs if proper measures were taken.
“Today, the industry’s share of the gross domestic product is close to $4.6 billion. Rest assured that we can double this number after five years and triple it after 15 years. We can also create more than 50,000 new jobs through this sector in the next five years,” Hariri told participants in the opening of National Campaign to Support Lebanese Industry” organized by the Industry Ministry in collaboration with the Association of Lebanese Industrialists at the Grand Serail.
He stressed that in order to achieve this goal, Lebanon needs to select some of the industrial products that can be exported to other countries.
“To achieve this, we must focus on industries that have added value and competitive advantage in the local or foreign markets, like the food industry, pharmaceuticals, furniture, jewelry, fashion, handicrafts, light industries and other industries mentioned by the McKinsey report.
“We all know that the high cost of production is the main obstacle to the industrial sector today. Reducing this cost on the industrialist begins by addressing the problem of electricity and complete the implementation of the plan approved by the Cabinet, and hopefully we will feel the difference significantly next year,” Hariri explained.
Most of the successive governments have pledged to boost industrial exports and to give this sector more attention.
But most of these promises did not materialize due to the lack of concrete measures and the absence of a strong political will.
Lebanese industrialists have constantly called for cutting the cost of production such as energy.
“In addition to addressing the high cost of production, our efforts will focus in the coming period on the following completing the studies for the establishment and development of industrial zones capable of providing a favorable environment to the Lebanese industrialists,” the prime minister added.
He also called for the encouragement of joint ventures with the foreign private sector.
“Today we are working seriously with the Lebanese industrialists to team up with foreign investors to increase our exports to the Arab countries, Africa and the whole world,” he added.
“We also need to open markets for Lebanese products and raise the value of Lebanese exports in terms of quantity and quality. We have recently appointed 20 economic attaches in the main countries with which Lebanon deals on the level of foreign trade, and we should benefit from their presence in coordination with the private sector,” Hariri said.
He also underlined the need to invest in the vocational and technical education sector to be able to ensure and develop the specialized technical skills that we need to develop the industrial sector.
For his part Industry Minister Wael Abou Faour talked about the McKinsey report, which said that 195,000 Lebanese work in the industrial sector, adding that a 1 percent growth in industry would lead to the creation of 1500 new jobs according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
He added: “Also in figures, the contribution of industry to the GDP reached 14 percent in 2018, and this can be increased according to the World Bank, but the unfortunate thing is that this contribution was 20 percent in 2000 and 24 percent in 1990.”
He added that this campaign aims at raising the awareness of the Lebanese consumer about the quality and competitiveness of the Lebanese industry and motivating him to support it by giving priority to purchasing Lebanese products.
President of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists Fady Gemayel also said that through industry Lebanon can reduce the trade balance deficit which exceeds $17 billion and which has become a serious threat to the national economy, finances, and currency.
“We also do not lose hope in Lebanon despite all the difficulties and challenges. We are really looking forward to the regularity of the government’s work to start implementing the projects of CEDRE conference and implementing the McKinsey plan, which constitutes the salvation of our national economy and the main supporter of our industrial sector,” Gemayel said.
The Daily Star