Beirut wants increased trade with Manila: DFA

MANILA -- Lebanon had expressed "desire" to further increase trade relations with the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.??

In a meeting with Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said they want to expand Philippine-Lebanon ties, particularly in the areas of trade and culture.??

According to the DFA, Gebran also said that the two countries could support each other's multilateral advocacies.

"He expressed his desire to see an increase of trade between the two countries," DFA quoted him.??

According to the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, overall trade to and from Lebanon has been impacted by the regional conflict and the closing of the border areas with Syria.??

But to counter the decline's effect, the Lebanese Government has introduced the Maritime Lebanese Bridge Program (MLEB) to support exporters in re-routing their exports through sea routes.??

Latest statistics of Lebanon Higher Council of Customs, Beirut's imports have now reached a value of USD18.7 billion from USD18.1 billion in 2015. ??

Exports followed the same trend, registering an increase of USD24 million and reaching USD2.98 billion last 2016. ??

Filipinos in Lebanon safe??

Catalla on January 4 presented her credentials to Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace.

On objectives throughout duration of her tour of duty, the envoy said she would strengthen people-to-people ties through cultural activities and actively promote trade.??

At present, alert level 1 or precautionary phase is still imposed on Lebanon, which hosts about 30,000 Filipinos.

Alert level 1 is issued when there are valid signs of internal disturbance, instability or external threat to the host country.

??Service of Filipino workers are highly in demand in Middle East states.

During Aoun's talks with Catalla, the official expressed his appreciation for the presence of Filipino workers in Lebanon and assured the ambassador of their good working conditions and welfare.

Source: Philippine News Agency