Hakim favors Lebanon joining WTO to bolster economy

11 March 2016

BEIRUT: Economy and Trade Minister Alain Hakim said Thursday that Lebanon should draw a road map and a plan that would help it join the World Trade Organization.

These remarks came following a meeting from WTO which came to Lebanon to discuss Lebanon’s accession to the organization.

“The main goal is to improve our economy by joining WTO. Our accession to this organization has many benefits for Lebanon especially since we have sound productive sectors such as industry and agriculture,” the minister said.

He saw no reason why Lebanon should not join the WTO like many other countries around the world.

However, Hakim acknowledged that Lebanon had not reaped many benefits from free trade agreements in the past because officials did not set clear criteria in order to protect the local industries.

“We have lost a lot in these agreements because we did not introduce the proper criteria for protection. Therefore, we need to improve the current situation with our Arab and European partners,” Hakim said.

He stressed that Lebanon should be open minded about joining WTO.

Other participants underlined the importance of learning from previous mistakes, noting that some of the free trade agreements did not help Lebanon to reduce the balance trade deficit.

However, not all officials and industrialists are enthusiastic about joining WTO.

Critics say that the price of joining WTO may be too high for Lebanon, noting that many industries may close down in the face of unfair competition.

They also draw attention to the fact that the cost of labor, production and land are far more expensive that some Asian countries and most notably China and Taiwan.

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