Lebanon is traditionally a country with a free and open trade regime. Efforts towards trade liberalization have been focused on the European Union (EU), World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Arab world.
Lebanon is seeking to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Having gained observer status in 1999, Lebanon held its fifth Working Party meeting in May 2007.
Lebanon’s Interim Agreement with the EU came into effect in March 2003. The agreement provides for reciprocal free trade on the majority of industrial goods. It also liberalizes trade on a large basket of agricultural and processed agricultural goods. The Euro-Med Partnership aims at establishing a free trade area for the Mediterranean region by the year 2010.
In 2004, Lebanon and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed a free trade agreement. EFTA granted market access on industrial goods beginning in 2005, while Lebanon will progressively dismantle tariff on industrial products between 2008 and 2015. The agreement covers trade in industrial goods and processed agricultural products, as well as investment and government procurement. Bilateral agreements between Lebanon and individual EFTA states have also been signed in 2004 covering trade in agriculture products.
Lebanon has signed a number of free trade agreements with Arab countries. Lebanon is a signatory to the Arab League’s Pan Arab Free Trade Area (PAFTA), an agreement among 17 Arab countries. Import duties among PAFTA countries were fully eliminated on January 1, 2005. Lebanon has signed a number of bilateral free trade agreements with Arab countries to expedite trade integration. Those include Syria (effective 1999), Egypt (effective 1999), Kuwait (effective 2000), UAE (effective 2001), Iraq (effective 2002), and Jordan (signed in 2002, but not ratified).
Lebanon and Syria signed a series of economic agreements in 1993 ,which could lead to a common market. Trade agreements with Egypt ,Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are in place . Lebanon has also signed an economic cooperation agreement of unlimited duration with the European Union (formerly European Community)