3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Private firms should exercise caution when bidding on public projects. Lebanese government agencies often sole-source contracts, undertaking direct contracting processes that operate according to differing standards and without a formal competitive solicitation. Public institutions evade regulations that promote full and open competition by splitting contract requirements into smaller solicitations whose values do not exceed government agency procurement limits. There is no unified procurement law. A modern procurement law is currently under preparation and will require the Cabinet’s and Parliament’s ratification. The Public Procurement Management Administration (PPMA), known as the “Tender Board,” technically has the authority to review terms of reference and evaluate bids for Lebanese government contracts. The Tender Board is generally transparent, but corruption often arises within the scope of the tenders and the ministries that issue them. The Central Inspection Board (CIB), an oversight body within the Office of the Prime Minister, oversees government administrative processes, and the Court of Audit has oversight over public expenditures. The Social Security Fund and the Council for Development and Reconstruction, public entities that manage large funding flows, remain outside the CIB jurisdiction.
Excessive regulation hampers procedures for business entry, operation, and exit. However, the process does not discriminate against foreign investors. International companies face an unpredictable and opaque operating environment and often encounter unanticipated obstacles or costs late in the process.
Trademark registration, economic and trade indicators, and market surveillance reports are available online at: http://www.economy.gov.lb . However, some procedures, including those related to branch offices or representative offices of foreign companies, or to protecting intellectual property rights, still require the right-holder to visit the ministry in person to finalize and pay required dues.
All legislation, government decrees, decisions, and official announcements are published in the Official Gazette. The government does not publish proposed draft laws and regulations for public comment, but a parliamentary commission may invite private sector stakeholders to comment on legislation. Telecom Law No. 431 requires the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) to issue regulations in draft for public consultation to promote transparency and enable the general public to shape future regulations. The TRA has not introduced new regulations since the term of its executive board expired in February 2012. Publicly listed companies adhere to international accounting standards. In general, legal, regulatory, and accounting systems for Lebanese businesses in the formal sector accord with international norms.
Lebanon passed the Access to Information Law in January 2017 to promote transparency in the public sector. The law permits anyone, including foreigners, to request information from government agencies. A Whistleblower Protection law also passed in October 2018. While the Whistleblower law is in force, the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission to oversee the law’s implementation was only approved by Parliament in April 2020 and has yet to be staffed. In January 2017, Lebanon announced its intent to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI), a global standard to promote transparency of the extractive sector, though Lebanon has not yet joined. In September 2018, Parliament adopted the Transparency in Oil and Gas Law to facilitate the EITI accession process. To complete Lebanon’s candidacy, the Minister of Energy and Water announced that Lebanon would form a Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), with representatives from government, private firms operating in Lebanon, and civil society. In March 2019, the Minister of Energy and Water invited civil society to choose independently its representative to the MSG, as per the EITI’s requirements. EITI membership will require annual data disclosures on licenses, contracts, beneficial ownership, payments, revenues, and production.
Lebanon’s public finances are not transparent; budget documents did not present a full picture of Lebanon’s expenditures and revenue streams, and Lebanon has not published an end-of-year report. Details regarding allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises were limited. The information in the budget was not considered reliable or reasonably accurate and did not correspond to actual revenues and expenditures. Lebanon’s supreme audit institution did not make its audit reports publicly available. While Lebanon’s debt obligations are transparent, some analysts have questioned the Central Bank’s reported foreign currency position. The Lebanese government hired three private auditors to audit its Central Bank in September 2020. The audits, including one forensic audit, have stalled.
International Regulatory Considerations
Lebanon is not part of any regional economic block. It adopts a variety of standards based on the type of product and product destination. Lebanon is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), but has held observer status since 1999. Lebanon does have a WTO/TBT (technical barriers to trade) Enquiry Point that handles enquiries from WTO Member States and other interested parties.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Lebanon has a civil (roman and codified law) legal system inspired by the French civil procedure code (three degrees of jurisdictions: First Instance, Appeal, and Supreme Court). Ownership of property is enforced by registering the deed in the Property Registry. Lebanon has a written commercial law and contractual law. Lebanon has commercial, civil, and penal courts, but no specialized courts to hear intellectual property (IP) claims. Civil and/or penal courts adjudicate IP claims. Lebanon has an administrative court, the State Council, which handles all disputes involving the state. Lebanon has a labor court in seven out of its nine governorates to hear claims of unfair labor practices.
Local courts accept investment agreements subject to foreign jurisdictions, if they do not contravene Lebanese law. Judgments of foreign courts are enforced subject to the Exequatur obtained. Weak judicial capacity (i.e., shortage of judges, inadequate support structures, administrative delays) results in delays in the handling of cases. The Lebanese Constitution guarantees the judicial system’s independence. However, politicians and powerful lobbying groups often interfere in the court system.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
A foreigner may establish a business under the same conditions as a Lebanese national and must register the business in the Commercial Registry. Foreign investors who do not manage their business from Lebanon need not apply for a work permit. However, foreign investors who own and manage their businesses within Lebanon must apply for an employer work permit and a residency permit. Employer work permits stipulate that a foreign investor’s capital contribution must be at least 100 million LBP ($7,690 at the market exchange rate of 13,000 LBP/1 USD). The investor must also hire three Lebanese employees and register them in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) within the first six months of employment.
Companies established in Lebanon must abide by the Lebanese Commercial Code and are required to retain the services of a lawyer to serve as a corporate agent. Local courts are responsible for enforcing contracts. There are no sector-specific laws on acquisitions, mergers, or takeovers, except for bank mergers.
Lebanese law does not differentiate between local and foreign investors, except in land acquisition (see Real Property section). Foreign investors can generally establish a Lebanese company, participate in a joint venture, or establish a local branch or subsidiary of their company without difficulty. Specific requirements apply for holding and offshore companies, real estate, insurance, media (television and newspapers), and banking.
Lebanese law allows the establishment of joint-stock corporations, limited liability, offshore, and holding companies. However, offshore and holding companies must be joint-stock corporations (Société Anonyme Libanaise – SAL). The Lebanese Commercial Code governs these entities.
IDAL’s website ( http://investinlebanon.gov.lb/ ) provides investors information on investment legislation, regulations, and starting a business. IDAL’s proposed changes to investment-related laws and regulations, including amending requirements for IT companies to benefit from IDAL incentives, are pending government approval. IDAL has finalized a detailed ICT plan aimed at expanding facilities, developing incentives, and facilitating investments in the ICT sector; it awaits Cabinet’s approval. IDAL intends to focus its investment promotion strategy on attracting high value-added innovative investments related to all of the sectors under its mandate.
Competition and Antitrust Laws
Lebanon has not enacted a law that governs competition, although the Ministry of Economy and Trade has prepared a draft law on this topic. Local courts review claims on competition-related issues under various laws.
Expropriation and Compensation
Land expropriation in Lebanon is relatively rare. The Law on Expropriation (Law No. 58, dated May 29, 1991, Article 1) and Article 15 of the Constitution specify that expropriation must be for a public purpose and calls for fair and adequate compensation. The government pays compensation at the time of expropriation, but the rate is often perceived as below fair market value. The government does not discriminate against foreign investors, companies, or their representatives on expropriations.
The government established three real estate companies in the mid-1990s to encourage reconstruction and development in Greater Beirut following the Lebanese Civil War: 1) private corporation Solidere for the development and reconstruction of Beirut’s downtown commercial district, 2) private corporation Linord, for northern Beirut, and 3) public institution Elyssar for the southwest suburbs of Beirut. Linord has been dormant for years, and Elyssar’s projects have stalled since 2007. The government granted these three companies the authority to expropriate certain lands for development under the Law on Expropriation. Landowners and squatters have challenged the land seizures in court.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Lebanon is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention). Lebanon ratified the 1958 Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) in 2007. Lebanese law conforms to both conventions.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The government accepts international arbitration related to investment disputes. In cases involving concessions or public projects, the government does not accept binding international arbitration unless the contract includes an arbitration clause that was obtained through prior approval by Cabinet decree. However, there is an exception for investors from countries that have a signed and ratified investment protection agreement with Lebanon that provides for international arbitration in the case of disputes. In the past, the government has faced challenges related to previously awarded contracts and resorted to international arbitration for resolution. To post’s knowledge, there are no known new cases. In 2010, the government settled a dispute with a Chinese contracting company working to expand the northern port of Tripoli.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
International arbitration is accepted as a means to settle investment disputes between private parties. The Lebanese Centre for Arbitration was created in 1995 by local economic organizations, including the Lebanese chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture. The Centre resolves domestic and international conflicts related to trade and investment. Its statutes are similar to those of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris, and its conciliation and arbitration rules are modeled on those of the Paris ICC. Judgments of foreign courts are enforced subject to the exequatur obtained.
Lebanon does not have a Bankruptcy Law. However, the Commercial Code (Book No. 5, Articles 459-668) and the Penal Code govern insolvency and bankruptcy. Workers may resort to the Labor Court and the National Social Security Fund to recover pay and benefits from local and foreign firms that go bankrupt. The law criminalizes fraudulent bankruptcy.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The right to private ownership is respected in Lebanon. The concept of a mortgage exists and secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced. Such security interests must be recorded in the Commercial Registry and the Real Estate Registry. The Real Estate Law governs acquisition and disposition of all property rights by Lebanese nationals, while Law No. 296, dated April 3, 2001, governs real estate acquisition by non-Lebanese. Over 20 percent of land, mostly in rural and remote areas, does not have clear title. The government is undertaking efforts to identify property owners and register land titles.
Intellectual Property Rights
While Lebanon is not a WTO member, its intellectual property rights (IPR) legislation is generally compliant with Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) standards. IPR enforcement is weak. The MoET’s Intellectual Property Protection Office (IPPO) has led efforts to improve the IPR regime but suffers from limited financial and human resources, and insufficient political support. Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) and Customs play roles in enforcement. The understanding of IPR within the Lebanese judiciary has improved somewhat in recent years but gaps remain with regards to the negative economic impact that IPR violations have on the economy. The MoET’s new draft laws and amendments to existing laws (as well as key IPR treaties) aimed at improving the IPR environment, notably for industrial design, trademark, geographical indications, as well as amendments to the copyright law, await approval from both Lebanon’s Cabinet and Parliament.
Existing IPR laws cover copyright, patent, trademarks, and geographical elements. Lebanon’s 1999 Copyright Law largely complies with WTO regulations and needs only minor amendments to become fully compatible. Copyright registration in Lebanon is not mandatory, and copyright protection is granted without the need for registration. The MoET launched an online registration service in January 2013 for trademarks on https://portal.economy.gov.lb/ . This service simplified the registration process and registrations of trademarks now take place online. Due to the complexity of copyrights and patents, registration is still accepted in person at the MoET, and payment must also take place in person. The switch from a deposit system to an objection system for trademarks also remains stalled due to the need for parliamentary approval. However, the MoET noted that it implements the objection system in practice.
Lebanon’s Parliament ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) in February 2010. Ratification documents have not yet been deposited with WIPO, however, since this would also require amendments to the Copyright Law.
A modern TRIPS-compatible Patent Law, approved in 2000, provides general protection for semiconductor chip layout designs and plant varieties. Data protection and undisclosed information fall under Article 47 of the Patent Law, but current provisions for pharmaceutical registration are subject to interpretation. Generic manufacturers in Lebanon are not prohibited from using original data (e.g., data published on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website) to register competing products that are identical to original products. Decree No. 571 on the conditions of registering, importing, marketing, and classifying pharmaceuticals, which should have improved the process of drug registration and reduced the number of copycat drugs being registered, still leaves some room for interpretation. There are no current plans to amend the Patent Law. On patent registrations, the Lebanese legal regime does not require examination for novelty, utility, and innovation. Simple patent deposit is required at the MoET, where the application is examined only for conformity with general laws and ethics.
The Internal Security Force (ISF) Cybercrime and IP Unit under ISF’s Judicial Police directorate focuses its efforts on online counterfeiting and copyright violations, whereas the Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Unit investigates trademark violations associated with counterfeit physical goods. Lebanese Customs also plays a direct role in IPR enforcement by seizing counterfeits and an indirect role as part of its efforts to combat smuggling. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 annual review of intellectual property protection worldwide has retained Lebanon on its watch list since 2008.
The MoET’s IPPO acts upon the requests of rights holders or in an ex officio capacity. The ISF cannot act in an ex officio capacity and still requires a criminal complaint to be filed with the prosecutor’s office in order for it to take action. The sale and distribution of pirated, counterfeit, and copycat products continued across Lebanon, in commercial establishments and through street vendors. This included leather goods, apparel and luxury items, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), software, optical media, and pharmaceuticals.
Resources for Intellectual Property Rights Holders:
Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi | U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Tel: +965 2259 1455 Peter.Mehravari@trade.gov
For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
There are no restrictions on portfolio investment, and foreign investors may invest in Lebanese equities and fixed income certificates. While legally Lebanon is a free market economy and does not restrict the movement of capital into or out of the country, the country’s banks have imposed informal capital controls on dollar withdrawals and financial outflows from Lebanon since October 2019. There are de facto restrictions on outbound payments and transfers for current international transactions, but these have yet to be codified into law. Although in April 2020, the Central Bank of Lebanon required money transfer services such as Western Union and MoneyGram to disburse inbound transfers in local currency, the Central Bank later allowed them to disburse in U.S. dollars by August 2020, ostensibly to attract remittance inflows. The Banking Control Commission of Lebanon (BCCL) has a department which oversees and conducts on-site and off-site audits of money exchange institutions and electronic money transfer firms operating in Lebanon using a risk-based supervision approach.
Credit is allocated on market terms, and foreign investors may obtain credit facilities on the local market. However, as Lebanon entered its economic crisis in the fall of 2019 and defaulted on its dollar-denominated debt in March 2020, local and international credit is virtually nonexistent. Banks have substantially reduced retail loans, such as housing, consumer, or personal loans, as well as have reduced heavily international limits of credit and debit cards, and maintains commercial loans mainly to agriculture, industrial and trade sectors for SMEs and large corporates.
Government legislation allows the listing of tradable stocks on the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE). By regulation, an investor should inform the BSE when her/his portfolio of shares in any listed company reaches ten percent and five percent in any listed bank. For an investor to acquire more than five percent of shares of any listed bank requires prior approval from the Central Bank. Currently, the BSE lists six commercial banks, four companies including Solidere – one of the largest publicly held companies in the region – and eight sovereign Eurobond issues (all in U.S. Dollars). However, the BSE suffers from a lack of liquidity and low trading volumes in the absence of significant institutional and foreign investors and had an annual trading volume of only 3.2 percent of market capitalization in 2020. Weak market turnover discourages investors from committing funds to the market and discourages issuers from seeking listings on the BSE.
Traditional businesses owned by commercially powerful families dominate most sectors. The government is trying to improve the transparency of such firms to help solidify an emerging capital market for company shares. The Cabinet approved in September 2017 a decree to establish the Beirut Stock Exchange SAL (BSE SAL) as a joint-stock company that will replace the current BSE. Initially, the Lebanese state will own the capital of BSE SAL and will privatize the company within one year. The delay in the process triggered the CMA to issue in January 2019 a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an electronic trading platform that will allow trading in products not traded in the BSE, such as foreign currencies, commodities, and listed SMEs and start-ups. The CMA has granted the winning consortium of Bank Audi and the Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX) a license to set up and operate an electronic trading platform (ETP). The consortium will contribute capital of $20 million to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will be created to operate the platform. The consortium has opened the door for banks and financial institutions to also contribute to the SPV’s capital. After ten years of operating the ETP, the consortium will have to list nearly 60 percent of the SPV shares on the ETP. More information can be found on: www.cma.gov.lb/. Lebanon hosts the headquarters of the Arab Stock Exchanges.
Money and Banking System
Lebanon’s banks are insolvent. The government’s April 2020 economic plan estimated losses in Lebanon’s financial sector at $83 billion dollars; as of March 2021, many economists believe the number is closer to $100 billion in losses. Banks are no longer serving their core functions: making productive loans or allowing those with dollar deposits to withdraw them. Clients cannot transfer money overseas. Lebanon has yet to adopt formal capital controls legislation, but most economic analysts believe such a law is necessary to preserve what limited foreign currency is left in the country and provide a level playing field to all Lebanese. At the behest of the Central Bank, in April 2020, banks began providing Lebanese lira at rates higher than the official pegged rate to customers with dollar-denominated accounts, but less than 60 percent of the market value of USD banknotes.
Lebanon relied on dollar inflows from abroad to finance imports and public spending and to maintain the Lebanese lira-to-USD peg, in place since 1997. Those dollars were deposited in Lebanese banks, which in turn lent them to the state in the form of deposits at the Central Bank or Lebanese debt instruments. Nearly 70 percent of bank assets are tied to the sovereign in those two forms. In 2019, as dollar inflows dried up and banking sector assets were tied to long-term deposits at the Central Bank and illiquid debt instruments, banks had trouble meeting their dollar obligations to clients, planting the seeds of the current crisis.
Lebanon’s default on its dollar-denominated debt in March 2020 – Lebanese banks at the time held $12.7 billion in Lebanon’s dollar bonds – further eroded the balance sheets of Lebanese banks. Financial experts estimated that 40 percent of loans from Lebanese banks were non-performing in December 2020. Bankers reported that correspondent banks overseas have stopped providing them with lines of credits – or only provide facilities with onerous conditions – further hampering bank efficacy in Lebanon. Lebanon’s April 30, 2020 economic plan hinted at a potential “haircut” on dollar deposits, in which wealthy account holders could lose some of their deposits to help recapitalize banks after shareholders “bail-in” (convert their deposits into bank shares) their financial institutions. In May 2020, banks released their own economic plan suggesting they be given state assets to cover losses rather than a “bail-in” or “haircut,” leading to an impasse that persists today, with necessary financial sector restructuring on hold.
The Lebanese banking sector covers the entire country with 1,047 operating commercial and investment bank branches as of June 2020. According to World Bank Development indicators, there are 534 depositors with commercial banks per 1,000 adults, 215 borrowers from commercial banks per 1,000 adults, and 38 ATMs per 100,000 adults. The total domestic assets of Lebanon’s fifteen largest commercial banks reached approximately $165 billion as of the end of 2020 (about 86.6 percent of total banking assets), according to Central Bank data.
Lebanon’s Central Bank was established in 1963. Lebanon’s Central Bank imposes strict compliance with regulations on banks and financial institutions, and commercial banks, in turn, maintain strict compliance regimes. However, the United States designated Jammal Trust Bank in August 2019 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for its role in financing Foreign Terrorist Organization Hizballah. Foreign banks and branches need the Central Bank’s approval to establish operations in Lebanon. Moreover, any shareholder with more than five percent of a bank’s share capital must obtain prior approval from the Central Bank to acquire additional shares in that bank, and must inform the Central Bank when selling shares. In addition, any shareholder needs to obtain prior approval from the Central Bank if he/she wants to become a board member. The use of cryptocurrencies is prohibited in Lebanon by the Central Bank. The Central Bank announced that it is developing a digital currency that it plans to issue for domestic use only.
There are no legal restrictions in Lebanon on a foreigner or non-resident’s ability to open a bank account in local or foreign currency, provided they abide by Lebanese compliance rules and regulations. Currently, however, most banks are not taking on new clients or new accounts. Banks claim they have stringent inquiry mechanisms to ensure compliance with international and domestic regulations and implement Lebanon’s anti-money laundering and counter-terror finance laws. Banks inform customers of Know-Your-Customer requirements and ask them about the purpose of opening new accounts and about the sources of funds to be deposited. Lebanese banks note they are compliant with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Lebanon adopted the OECD Common Reporting Standards since January 1, 2018.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Commercial banks in late 2019 introduced informal capital controls on Lebanese depositors to stem the outflow of foreign currency; these controls have persisted today, and banks have barred virtually all overseas transfers. Clients with Lebanese lira (LBP) denominated accounts can only convert their lira to dollars outside of banks at licensed and unlicensed money exchangers.
As of March 2021, Lebanon in practice had several different exchange rates. Since 1997, the LBP has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at 1,507.5 LBP/1 USD. However, as Lebanese continue to demand scarce dollars in the Lebanese financial system, the currency depreciated on the parallel market, the only source of U.S. dollar banknotes for most Lebanese. The Central Bank only made dollars available to importers at the official rate for imports of fuel, wheat, and medicine. It has also made dollars available at 3,900 LBP/1 USD for importers of “critical” food items. This 3,900 LBP/1 USD rate is also the “bank rate” – the rate at which banks convert U.S. dollar-denominated accounts to local currency when clients withdraw dollars. The prevailing market rate for U.S. dollar banknotes, however, reached 10,000 LBP/1 USD on March 2, 2021, and 15,000 LBP/1 USD two weeks later. As of April 12, the prevailing market rate was 13,000 LBP/1 USD. Different stores and shops offered varying exchange rate conversions at ad hoc rates as well.
The conversion of foreign currencies or precious metals is unfettered. Lebanon’s Central Bank posts a daily local currency-exchange rate on its website: http://www.bdl.gov.lb/ . Lebanon has one of the most heavily dollarized economies in the world, and businesses commonly accept payment (and return change) in a combination of LBP and U.S. dollars, but given the scarcity of U.S. dollars, some businesses offered discounts or better prices for cash dollar payments.
While capital controls curtailed the ability of those holding dollar-denominated bank accounts in Lebanon to withdraw or transfer their currencies overseas, those in Lebanon with access to “fresh dollars” (i.e., new dollars from abroad or not from within the local financial system) were able to access, withdraw, and transfer overseas dollars. For the vast majority of Lebanese and businesses in Lebanon, remitting any money overseas, including investment returns, remained nearly impossible. Most economists believe capital controls must continue for the foreseeable future to prevent a bank run and preserve the limited foreign currency remaining in Lebanon, although they prefer formal and legal capital controls passed by Lebanon’s Parliament.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Lebanon does not have a sovereign wealth fund. The government’s economic rescue plan, approved by the Cabinet on April 30, 2020, calls for the creation of a Public Asset Management Company that would include state assets and properties to help restore depositors’ funds and boost economic recovery. Lebanon’s Offshore Petroleum Resource Law states that proceeds generated from oil and gas exploration must be deposited in a Sovereign Wealth Fund. Creating the fund requires a separate law, which the government has yet to adopt. Lebanon currently receives no proceeds from natural resources that could flow into a sovereign wealth fund.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Lebanese firms are aware of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and responsible business conduct (RBC), including on environmental, social, and governance issues. This is true for the banking sector as well as companies in industry, which are slowly creating sustainable supply chains or pursuing social initiatives to appeal to consumers. The Lebanese Standards Institution (LIBNOR), part of the Ministry of Industry, strives to expand the use of the ISO 26000 standard on Social Responsibility (SR) in Lebanon, one of the eight pilot countries in the Middle East. However, laws related to human and labor rights, consumer protection, and environment protections are unevenly enforced. On December 30, Parliament passed Law No. 205 criminalizing sexual harassment in the work place.
The Central Bank of Lebanon works with banks to direct their financial resources towards projects that improve society and the environment. This includes issuing circulars to create favorable environmental and educational loans, encourage entrepreneurship through private equity investments, and facilitate improved governance through customer protection. Lebanon’s economic crisis, however, has frozen project and corporate lending. In 2015, the banking sector started to implement Central Bank Circular No. 134, requiring banks to apply measures to ensure transparent and fair dealings with their customers, a reflection of the CSR principles of corporate governance and consumer protection. The Central Bank also established the Institute for Finance and Governance (IFG). Some Lebanese banks attempt to align their business plans and CSR policy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Several banks issue their own annual CSR reports.
The government does not require or encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct. However, several companies have adopted a Code of Ethics and corporate governance codes, including the business association ‘Rassemblement de Dirigeants et Chefs d’Entreprises Libanais’ (RDCL, or the Group of Lebanese Business Owners) Code of Business Ethics, and the Lebanese Code of Corporate Governance (CG), which is under the auspices of the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA). However, these codes are strictly voluntary and the government provides no incentives or enforcement for their adoption.
Department of State
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices ;
- Trafficking in Persons Report;
- Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities and;
- North Korea Sanctions & Enforcement Actions Advisory.
Department of Labor
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
In 1981, Lebanon and the United States signed an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement, which become operational in 1996. OPIC is currently active in Lebanon in insurance, financing, and investment. To date, OPIC has provided more than $300 million in credit line guarantees for transactions in Lebanon.
The Lebanese government’s National Investments Guarantee Corporation (NIGC) continues to insure new investments against political risks, riots, losses due to non-convertibility of currencies, and transfer of profits. Lebanon has been a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), part of the World Bank, since 1994. 13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2019||$5,360||2019||$5,199||www.worldbank.org/en/country|
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2019||$33.8||2019||$407||BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||2019||$0||2019||$16||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data|
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||N/A||N/A||2019||3.8%||UNCTAD data available athttps://stats.unctad.org/handbook/EconomicTrends/Fdi.html|
* Source for Host Country Data: GDP data is from the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) at the official, pegged exchange rate of 1,507.5 LBP/1 USD. Lebanon’s Central Bank compiled FDI statistics without geographical breakdown, thus the inward/outward FDI positions from/to the United States are “partial figures” derived from the Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS). The CDIS includes banking, financial, and insurance sectors.
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||$2,053||100%||Total Outward||$4,061||100%|
|United Arab Emirates||$164||8%||Jordan||$304||7.5%|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||$158||7.7%||Luxembourg||$246||6.1%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
Source: BdL; IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey-CDIS, December 2019
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||$1,340||100%||All Countries||$833||100%||All Countries||$507||100%|
|United States||$332||24.8%||United States||$235||28%||United States||$97||19.2%|
|United Kingdom||$74||5.5%||Cayman Islands||$59||7%||United Kingdom||$33||6.5%|
|Cayman Islands||$65||4.8%||Jordan||$41||5%||South Africa||$27||5%|
Source: BdL; IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey-CPIS, Jun 2020. Per BdL officials, CPIS data of Dec-2020 is not yet available.
14. Contact for More Information
Economic and Commercial Officer
+961 76 514 942
U.S. Embassy Beirut