DEIK Turkey-Lebanon Business Council President Akkus said, “During our meeting with Lebanese Trade Minister Raul Name, we conveyed that we aspire to build the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by the explosion, with the build-operate-transfer model.”
Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Turkey-Lebanon Business Council Chairman Abdulkadir Akkus said, “At the end of last month, we told him that we aspire to build the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by the explosion, with the build-operate-transfer model during our meeting with Lebanese Trade Minister Raul Name. They took their notes and said they would take a look.”
Lebanon, whose capital Beirut was once called the Paris of the Middle East, has been grappling with a devastating economic crisis for nearly three years amid protracted civil war, regional conflicts and political instability. The crisis, which started in October 2019, deepened further with one of the most devastating explosions in world history that took place in the Port of Beirut in August 2020.
Evaluating the current economic situation in Lebanon to AA correspondent, DEIK Turkey-Lebanon Business Council Chairman Akkus said that they met with Lebanese authorities for the rebuilding of the destroyed Beirut port.
Noting that they, as DEIK, went to Lebanon for commercial negotiations at the end of last month, Akkus said, “During our meeting with Lebanese Trade Minister Raul Name, we conveyed that we aspire to build the Beirut port, which was destroyed by the explosion, with the build-operate-transfer model. They took their notes and said they would look and think. Turkey has very successful contractors in construction projects around the world. The Lebanese are also currently negotiating with France and China for the construction of the port. We would like to get this job in an area where we have proven ourselves.”
“A government should be established urgently and financing should be found”
Abdulkadir Akkus stated that $1 in Lebanon currently corresponds to 18 thousand Lebanese pound in foreign exchange dealers and said, “Since the limits at the Central Bank are about to run out, they reduced the subsidies to the fuel and pharmaceutical sector. While 1 liter of gasoline used to be ₺15 thousand in the past, now it has increased to ₺30 thousand, 100%. While 1 kilo of meat was ₺10 thousand in food prices, it has now increased to ₺70 thousand, 7 to 1. There are queues everywhere in the food, fuel and pharmaceutical industries. There are also those who sell the fuel they have to Syria at a cheap price and keep them from the people.”
Noting that there are almost 18 hours of cuts in electricity a day, Akkus said, “The cost of the crisis that started in October 2019 is estimated to be close to $100 billion. Private banks invested the deposits they collected from the public in state banks, and they in different projects of the state, but they went bankrupt. The public therefore cannot access their private deposits in banks. It cannot trade with any country. At the moment, trade revolves entirely around cash.”
Saying that Lebanon needs the help of the whole world right now, Akkus said, “The government needs to be formed urgently. In the next stage, the wheels need to be turned by obtaining loans from the World Bank or the IMF. For this, a government must be formed, otherwise financing cannot be found. In a country with a population of 6 million, there were almost 100 banks and the insurance system was very developed. If these banks get back on track, things can open up.”
“Need to meet essential needs”
DEIK Turkey-Lebanon Business Council President Akkus stated that they wanted Turkish businesspeople to benefit from the new port to be built and said, “We sent them to do it as a brother country, they took the necessary notes and said they would consider it. There are currently Mardin residents in Lebanon who immigrated there in the first years of the Turkish Republic and whose population is close to 200,000 today. They say that Turkey should give us citizenship, let’s come and invest because there is an economic crisis here and we do not want to lose our savings. There are enthusiastic and warm businesspeople in Turkey.”
Noting that Turkey made nearly $200 million worth of exports to Lebanon in the first 2 months of the year, Akkus said:
“This year, we can export maybe close to $1 billion. Due to the proximity of Iskenderun and Mersin ports to Lebanon, voyages to Tripoli and Beirut ports are fast. In the past, Lebanon used to buy its products mostly from France and other European countries, but Turkey’s prices are more affordable and of the same quality. Turkey is in an important position in terms of supply, as our production wheels turn fast. Most essential needs need to be met right now, such as foodstuffs. We are also very good at these products. Turkey is also preferred in textile and chemical products.”
Stating that commercial diplomacy will develop with mutual steps, Akkus said, “There are those who demand that we open a factory in Lebanon and invest. If any factory owner in Turkey exports to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the customs are high, but Lebanon has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Arab countries. For example, it would be more profitable for a textile factory to be opened there to sell goods to Middle Eastern countries duty-free. As a result, the foreign currency earned there will come to Turkey. We want an FTA with Lebanon as well.”
According to the data of the World Bank, the economic crisis in Lebanon may be among the three most severe crises in the world since the middle of the 19th century. It is estimated that approximately $15 billion of material damage occurred in the explosion at the Beirut Port. On the other hand, various German and French firms had previously made proposals for the reconstruction of the port, but it was reported in the media that the political crisis in Lebanon was an obstacle to the progress of the process.
Source: AA / Translated by Irem Yildiz