A team of Sofia Investment Agency was on a three-day visit to Lebanon to present the business environment in Sofia and the investment opportunities in the city. The trade forum was organized by the Lebanese-Bulgarian Business Council (LBB Council) and included presentations of the investment opportunities in Sofia at the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in three Lebanese cities – Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon.
A very strong interest was demonstrated towards Sofia and Bulgaria, especially in bilateral business relations, trade and investment. The meetings were attended by business representatives from companies in the field of tourism, construction, consulting, export, film and advertising, as well as organizations in the field of “smart cities and mobility”.
The opening seminar was held at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and the Mount Lebanon and was hosted by Mr. Mohamed Choucair, President of the Chamber, and President of the Economic Bodies of Lebanon.
The welcome speech was given by Mr. Ahmad Alaeddine, president of the Lebanese-Bulgarian Business Council, who organized the seminar and whose efforts made this event possible.
Mr. Alaeddine emphasized that building stronger economic trade relationship and fostering trade and investments between Lebanon and Bulgaria is a key priority. He shared his belief that the potential of this collaboration is great and it will be beneficial for both countries in the long run.
At his turn, Mr. Choucair shared a few interesting facts about Lebanon. The country had received a financial support in the amount of USD 200 million from the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) in the beginning of last year. The funds are allocated for building a road infrastructure and promoting employment in less developed regions, as well as for increasing connectivity with the economic centers in the country. In addition to that, in December 2017, Lebanon signed a contract for exploitation of potential offshore gas and oil deposits in a consortium with the French company ‘Total’, Italian ‘Eni’ and Russian ‘Novatek’.
Mr. Fadi Daouk, CEO of BML Bank www.bml.com.lb, said that Lebanon is attractive to other countries due to its strong diaspora of over 14 million people living all over the world but strongly connected to Lebanon, who contribute to the development of the trade with Africa, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Latin America. He also added that Lebanese banks are open to fund projects with Bulgaria.
Ms. Nadia Soultanova, head of the Business Development department at Sofia Investment Agency, presented Sofia’s economic profile, as well as priority industries and incentives for investors in the capital. The discussion that followed the presentation included many questions by business representatives from Lebanon regarding the possibilities for investment in real estate and hotels, food import and export, and the business climate in Sofia.
In turn, the host organizations introduced the advantages of Lebanon as a business destination. Here is Lebanon’s country profile, presented in brief facts and figures:
• The free market economy of the country applies a policy of non-interference in private investment and has one of the Middle East’s most liberal investment climates
• In 2017 GDP was USD 52.7 billion, USD 11 680 per capita
• A GDP growth of 2% is expected in 2018
• The trade balance of the country totals USD 20 286 million
• Foreign investments in the country amounted to USD 2.56 billion in 2016. By sectors, most of the investments were registered in services and trade, followed by ICT, real estate, media and agriculture.
• In the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018, Lebanon ranks 45th out of 137 countries on Stability and Effectiveness of the Banking system and Financial Markets
• The corporate tax in the country is 17%
• Compared to the region, the country offers favorable conditions in terms of number of procedures and number of days to open a business
• The country’s main imports from Bulgaria include mineral raw materials (58%), vegetables, livestock and animal products, metals.
• The export to Bulgaria is mainly focused on processed foods, raw metal materials, plastics, etc.
Ms. Leila Sawaya from the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) said that the country sees an opportunity to export to Bulgaria products of the strongly developed agricultural sector in the country, especially nuts and olive oil. IDAL offers incentives for investors in 8 key priority sectors: technology, information technologies, food and beverage, tourism, industrial development, media and telecom. IDAL issues certificates for investment relief in the less developed regions of the country for a period of 10 years.
More macroeconomic data for the country, information by sectors and a list of incentives can be found in the presentation of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, available here.
A special guest at the seminar in Beirut was Mr. Fadi el Gemayel, president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI).
Mr. Nabil Itani, Chairman and General manager of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), hosted the official dinner on the occasion of the seminar.
The opening seminar was also attended by representatives of the Association of the Lebanese Graduates from Bulgarian universities. The association has 500 members in Lebanon. Issues related to the admission of Lebanese students to Bulgarian universities were shared, as well as a desire to improve this process.
The three-day visit continued with presentations at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Tripoli and North Lebanon, and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon.
The meetings were attended by Mr. Georgi Nedyalkov, a trade attaché in the Bulgarian Trade Office in Tripoli.
Sofia Investment Agency would like to extend its special thanks to the Lebanese- Bulgarian Business Council (LBB Council) and its President Mr. Ahmad Alaeddine for the perfect organization, the exceptional hospitality and the opportunity to present Sofia and Bulgaria in Lebanon. We are impressed that the meetings received wide coverage by the media, social networks and the interested institutions in Lebanon.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Mohamed Choucair, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and President of the Economic Bodies of Lebanon, for his hospitality, as well as to Mr. Toufic Dabboussi, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Tripoli and North Lebanon, and to Mr. Mohamad Saleh, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Sidon and South Lebanon.
We are especially grateful to Mr. Nabil Itani, Chairman and General manager of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), for his kind hospitality at the official dinner on the occasion of the visit.
We would also like to thank Mr. Fadi Daouk for his informative presentation and participation in the seminar.
If you are interested in business contacts with organizations and companies in Lebanon, do not hesitate to contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for specific guidelines and opportunities outlined in the course of our business visit.