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Geopolitical tensions slowing the growth of the economy, but not foreign capital inflows.
The latest official statistics on the trend of Lebanon’s economy date back to 2013, and estimate GDP growth at 3%, from 2.8% in 2012. The upbeat trend of services, stronger power generation and manufacturing output, despite a plunge in exports and the slowdown of activity in the construction sector, suggest that in 2014 GDP grew at a rate of between 2 and 2.5%. In 2015, the economy will benefit from the decline in hydrocarbon prices, and from the resulting lower prices faced by businesses and consumers. In the prospectus published at the end of February on occasion of the issue of a loan on the Euromarket in dollars, the Ministry of the Economy estimated GDP growth in 2015 at 2.5%. The EIU’s forecast is +3%. The year-on-year inflation rate, after accelerating last spring and peaking at 1.7% in March 2014, driven by higher food product and shelter prices, subsequently slowed, and closed 2014 on the decline at -0.7% y/y. In February 2015, the price index was negative by 2.8%. With regards to national accounts, in 2014 the public deficit dropped to 8% of GDP, from 9.3% in 2013. The public debt/GDP ratio amounted to 134.2 in 2014. The balance of payments shows a substantial current account deficit (which averaged 18.4% of GDP in the 2009-13 five-year period) due to the trade component (average deficit of 32.9% of GDP in the 2009-13 five-year period). At the end of 2014, reserves in currency amounted to 39.2 billion, from 36.3 at the end of 2013. This compares to foreign financial requirements in 2015 estimated by the EIU at 12 billion dollars, with a reserve cover ratio of 3.3.
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