Syrian investors build factories afresh in Lebanon

Crippling armed conflict in Syria redirects construction to neighbour

A factory rising in Bekaa Valley
A factory rising in Bekaa Valley

Syrian industrialists escaping their war-ravaged country are queuing up to establish industrial plants in Lebanon, the country’s minister of industry told Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

“At least a dozen Syrian investors have applied for industrial plant licenses in Lebanon with millions of dollars to be invested [in the next 3 years],” Vreij Sabounjian detailed in the daily.

The minister said the planned factories would cover industries such as cement, metalwork, machinery, woodwork, furniture, garments and beverages, and will cluster in the Bekaa Valley.

The Syrian market has for decades relied on Aleppo’s manufacturing plants, but these have been largely devastated or looted in the wake of the ongoing conflict.

“A lot of industries in Lebanon are able to sell in Syria and are benefiting a lot,” Sabounjian noted. “Some industries – including cement – are even selling to countries where Syria used to export to.”

However the overall impact of the Arab uprisings has reached a stalemate. While the sector remains afloat, it has limited opportunity to expand amid the current uncertainty, Sabounjian admitted.

The changing market dynamics, for example, have cause plans to build several new industrial zones in Lebanon to be shelved, after receiving little interest from investors.

The firms already located in several industrial areas around Beirut and Mount Lebanon are not eager to move to new locations, as relocating can very costly, particularly with the halting of production.

The minister finished: “Overall, our major concern right now is to preserve the industrial sector and prevent any industrial firms from going out of business.”

In a separate economic decision out of sync with the scale of the violence, Iraq last month signed a pipeline deal with Iran and Syria to convey Iranian natural gas to the latter.

 

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