Lebanese economic institutions made several proposals to Saudi Arabia to resume the export of Lebanese agricultural products to the Kingdom.
On April 23, Saudi Arabia decided to prevent the entry or transit of Lebanese vegetables and fruits from its territory, explaining that the concerned authorities had noticed the increasing targeting of the Kingdom by drug smugglers in Lebanon.
During a consultative meeting today, the heads of the economic bodies in Lebanon gathered with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari, at the headquarters of the Lebanese Forces Party under the title “Re-exporting Hope”.
These proposals were announced that focused on the following measures:
Undertaking the responsibility of all stakeholders involved in the export process, specifically drivers.
A proposal for a “List of Trusted Exporters in Lebanon” by the Syndicate of Fruit and Vegetable Exporters and the Industrialists’ Association, according to a list of specifications and standards agreed upon by both sides.
Emphasis by the concerned ministries and security authorities on certificates of origin and customs transactions, and stress by all control bodies on verification processes.
A certificate of good conduct or its equivalent from the Association of Owners of Refrigerated Truck Owners for Drivers to be approved by the Saudi Embassy.
Accreditation of international auditing and monitoring companies operating in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf that lay out a plan for control and inspection and address the gaps and challenges that may hinder the implementation of safe export operations.
Establishing a land port for industrialists and farmers, to be monitored by the concerned security agencies, provided that it is equipped by the exporters and the Industrialists Association after agreement with the Lebanese customs.
Export restriction to Lebanese truck owners and drivers.
The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon said, “We share a common responsibility in confronting an international transnational and organized crime, in violation of all rules of international law.”
He expressed the hope that this serious proposal would be a gateway to discuss the repercussions of the decision to export agricultural products, and to search for solutions.
In this context, economic analyst Maurice Matta stressed the importance of returning exports from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia.
He said in an interview with “Al-Ain News”: “The data of the Lebanese embassy in the Kingdom shows that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries during the past six years amounted to 600 million dollars annually, and Saudi Arabia is the second destination for export from Lebanon.”
He added: “The Saudi Development Fund extended a helping hand to Lebanon in its various economic crises, in addition to the role of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action and its offerings in times of distress, such as supporting educational, health, humanitarian, social and religious institutions, through in-kind donations.”
He continued, “The number of Lebanese in Saudi Arabia is about 350 thousand, while the Lebanese community is the largest Arab community investing in Saudi Arabia and includes thousands of investors and businessmen and more than 600 Lebanese institutions. The Lebanese investments in the Kingdom are estimated at tens of billions of dollars, where the value of institutions exceeds The Lebanese in Saudi Arabia own or share about $125 billion.
And he added: “With regard to the transfers of the Lebanese from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, the estimates of the Lebanese-Saudi Business Council indicate that the total remittances from the Gulf region to Lebanon amount to about 4.5 billion dollars annually, about half of which come from the Lebanese community in Saudi Arabia.”
He explained, “Any ban on importing food industries from Lebanon means a fatal blow to the national industry, as one-third of Lebanese exports will not reach the Arabian Gulf, and here we are talking about the equivalent of $900 million.”
On the agricultural level, Matta pointed out that Saudi Arabia and the neighboring countries to which Lebanese trucks cross through Saudi lands to reach their markets import 55.4 percent of the total Lebanese exports of vegetables and fruits, about 173.3 thousand tons annually.