Lebanon halves steel imports in 2020
Lebanon continued to decrease steel product imports in 2020. Along with the troubled economic and political situation, the pandemic made a serious contribution to the negative dynamics. The structure of the trade flow also changed.
Total steel imports to Lebanon decreased by 50% year-on-year in 2020. According to the Lebanese Customs Administration, the country received almost 391,000 t last year. This is only 31% of the volume imported in 2017. Traditionally, long steel products accounted for more than 70%. Imports in all key steel segments registered a double-digit drop.
On the one hand, it is a result of permanent economic, financial, and political problems, which Lebanon has been facing for years. On the other one, the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the local turbulence. “The Lebanon financial and economic crisis is likely to rank in the top 10, possibly top three, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.
Real GDP growth is estimated to have contracted by 20.3% in 2020, on the back of a 6.7% contraction in 2019. The sharp economic contraction implied a commensurate drop in imports,” the World Bank’s Lebanon Economic Monitor states.
Changes touched the structure of imports as well. While earlier Ukraine was the major supplier both in longs and flats, last year Lebanese importers preferred Turkish origin in longs, lifting it to the first place. As a result, Turkey and Ukraine exported to Lebanon 233,302 t and 87,981 t respectively versus 224,340 t and 232,265 t in 2019. In 2020, the third place was taken by China (17,976 t).
Which since 2017 had been in top-5 suppliers. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran narrowed their presence last year after being among key steel sources in 2018-2019.