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Lebanon Pays a Price For Syrian Economic Collapse

The worrying economic situation in conflict-ridden Syria has sent tremors through Lebanon, a country that maintains strong economic ties with its eastern neighbor, writes Elie Hajj.
A general view shows a shipping container area at the port of Beirut November 20, 2012. Civil war in Syria is taking its toll on several sectors of the economy of neighbouring Lebanon, where exports have tumbled 12 percent, Lebanon's economy minister said on Monday. The IMF said in September that the main risk to the economy was poor policymaking, not Syria. To match Reuters Summit MIDEAST-SUMMIT/LEBANON-SYRIA  REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir  (LEBANON- Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR3ANO6
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Economists in Lebanon are keeping a close eye on the Syrian economy, given the strong economic ties that exist between the two neighboring countries. The military confrontations and general unrest in Syria over the past two years have caused much worry amongst their neighbors to the west, with the Syrian lira losing 50-70% of its value. What’s more, estimates of losses related to infrastructure and the economy stand at about $200 billion.

Among other things, Lebanon’s deep concern over the fate of Syria can be traced back to the fact that it represents the only land bridge by which Lebanese exports can reach Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf states. Although maritime transport is always an option, it can be pricey in comparison and is not ideal for many goods, especially agricultural products.

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