Market overview

Lebanon has shut its border with respect to citizens' movements, but trade, diplomatic, and repatriation movements are still ongoing. Along with existing challenges to trade due to banking restrictions, the crisis has seen demand fall dramatically while prices have witnessed a steep inflation due to currency devaluation.

Measures are in place to restrict citizens' movements during the day. Curfews are administered daily from 7:00pm until 5:00am, with exceptions for vital movements.

Lebanon's International Airport was closed on 19 March 2020.  Commercial flight services were suspended and land border crossings into Syria have been closed indefinitely since 12 March 2020.

Economy and trade

The main burden on Lebanon's economy stems from the deep financial crisis that predates COVID-19 in the country, which has led to restricted bank transfers and withdrawals and devalued the national currency by some 100% since October 2019.

Consumers have complained that the prices of basic commodities have surged to alarming levels since the sharp drop of the lira against the US dollar. The shutdown of most businesses due to COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem further.

Risks of a 'haircut' (a percentage reduction in value) on bank deposits – in addition to the de-facto devaluation of national currency – are very real. Expected negotiation with the IMF for a relief package may ease the markets, but will inevitably come with substantial socio-economic effects.

Government response

The Lebanese Government put in place a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019) National Health Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan as of 10 March 2020.

On 15 March 2020, the government announced a state of "General Mobilization", whereby a list of essential government and private sector activities were permitted to continue at minimum levels, while all other activities were suspended.

The government announced an aid plan for extremely poor families – especially for those whose daily jobs were halted – at some 400,000 Lebanese pounds worth of food and vital supplies per household. Despite some logistical issues, these deliveries are now underway.

The central bank issued a series of circulars that addressed lowering commercial interest rates, postponing loans payments, and the ministry of finance granted grace periods regarding fiscal and social security dues on companies.

The Government announced its incapacity and suspension of its debts payments as well: only essential and vital investments will be pursued. However, the government is yet to approve a clear economic plan and identify priorities in investment.

Supply chain, logistics and freight

Land, air, and maritime seaports are all open, and distribution channels down to the last-mile arrangements are still in place. No noticeable changes of charges have been reported. Some restrictions apply to agriculture/food imports to comply with trade calendars.

Sector insights: food and beverage

Lebanon's government is considering importing wheat for the first time since 2014, weighing its dwindling supply of dollars against concerns that the coronavirus may threaten the nation's food security. In general, food stocks are still in good shape, but shortages may begin to appear in coming weeks.

Food supply is likely to witness a spike in demand shortly, especially for dairy and meat. This may be beneficial for New Zealand dairy businesses present in the market – however, due to fierce price competition from Turkish imports, meat businesses are less likely to see a benefit unless supply shortages change dramatically.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

COVID-19 helpline for businesses
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.