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China opens its door further to imports, an opportunity for Lebanon Release date: 2023-04-07    Source:Xinhua

Lebanon's exports to China from 1995 to 2020 increased at an annualized rate of 17.5 percent, from 470,000 U.S. dollars to 26.2 million dollars, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Main Lebanese exports to China include chemicals, textiles and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables. Additionally, Lebanon has been exporting more processed foods, such as canned goods and packaged snacks, to China in recent years.

China's growing middle class and increasing demand for high-quality, unique products have driven Chinese demand for Lebanese goods. Lebanese exporters have also actively sought new markets like China to diversify their customer base and expand their businesses.

While there is still room for growth in this trade relationship, the increase in Lebanese exports to China is a positive sign for the country's economy and its contribution to the global marketplace.

Lebanese brands have recently gained much popularity in the Middle East and worldwide. Several Lebanese companies have been exporting their products to various countries, including China.

Some of the best-performing Lebanese brands in China are notably Patchi (luxury chocolate with several outlets in major Chinese cities) and Elie Saab (a high-end fashion brand worn by several celebrities worldwide. Elie Saab has a flagship store in Shanghai).

The two mentioned brands are some of the best-performing Lebanese names in China. Other notable Lebanese brands that have made it to China include Zuhair Murad, Karen Chekerdjian, Chateau Ksara and others.

In 2018, China held the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the world's first national-level import expo. China is taking an essential step with a new round of high-level opening-up to widen market access to the rest of the world by lowering tariffs on a wide range of imported goods.

Still, exporting to China can be a complex process that requires careful planning and attention to detail. Several factors must be considered when exporting to China, such as customs requirements and cultural differences.

One of the critical challenges when considering exporting from Lebanon to China is navigating the country's delicate regulatory environment.

Another challenge is understanding the Chinese market and consumer preferences. Lebanese companies need to ensure their products are tailored to the Chinese market and meet the needs and expectations of Chinese consumers.

The Chinese government has implemented policies and initiatives to encourage foreign investment and trade, which can provide support for Lebanese exporters. For example, the CIIE is an annual event showcasing products and services worldwide. It can be a valuable platform for Lebanese businesses to showcase their products and connect with potential buyers.

In an initiative to close the knowledge gap by Lebanese businesspeople, a workshop on "Cross-Border E-Commerce and Mobile Payments in Lebanon" was held in Beirut in Oct. 2022 by the Shandong International Vocational College in China, with the participation of the Arab Chinese Cooperation and Development Association in Lebanon. More than 25 participants from Lebanon have joined the workshop, including representatives from the Ministries of Economy and Trade and Agriculture, manufacturers and traders.

China has over 1.4 billion people, representing a vast and rapidly growing market for goods and services. There is a growing demand for high-quality products in China, which can be an opportunity for Lebanese exporters who offer niche or premium products.

For example, Lebanon is known for its wine industry, and Chinese consumers are increasingly interested in imported wines. Other potential export products from Lebanon include olive oil, handicrafts and textiles. This can be an attractive opportunity for Lebanese exporters to expand their customer base and increase sales.

China has the world's largest e-commerce market, with platforms like Alibaba and dominating online retail. This can be an opportunity for Lebanese exporters to reach Chinese consumers directly through e-commerce channels without needing a physical presence in China.

By Pierre Al-Khoury, an economist and professor of Economics & Finance at the Beirut Arab University