The industrial sector can help Lebanon, Don’t shut it down

  • The Association of Lebanese Industrialists and Cedar Oxygen strongly call on the Government of Lebanon to lift the decision to shut down industry during the quarantine, for it is vitally needed to keep Lebanon from shortages and further economic deterioration.
  • During the crisis, Lebanese Industry is providing vital products needed in Lebanon during lockdown. The halting of production will only cause shortages, a raising of prices and additional drain on reserves to import from abroad.
  • Lebanese industrialists are a primary source of foreign currency into Lebanon and they hold the highest potential of growth thus they can help halt the slide deeper into crisis.
  • Government’s decision to halt industrial production confirms the lack of commitment by officials in the Lebanese state to empower the productive sectors thus protecting tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of economic production.

Beirut, January 28th 2021 – Following the government’s decision to extend the full lockdown to February 8th, including the full lockdown to the Industrial sector, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI) and Cedar Oxygen (CedarO2) an economic recovery platform, condemn the controversial decision that will cause shortages in Lebanese markets as well as risk jobs, capital inflows and livelihoods during the apex of the crisis.

Both ALI and CedarO2, strongly demand an immediate revision of the government’s decision which will cause a complete halt on the core of the nation’s productive economy, which is highly needed by the country suffering from and extended Covid-19 surge. The Lebanese industrial sector is an active contributor to containing the impact on the Lebanese population through the production of health, hygiene and safety products, in addition to providing competitive products to supply local food and beverage demand at local currency prices versus imported products that drain the economy of much needed foreign currency liquidity.

ALI and CedarO2 believe that shutting down a vital part of the productive economy is not a viable solution and it will have strong negative long-term effects on a country that is already facing insurmountable challenges, and will severely limit chances to reboot the economy, raise employment, and bolster crucial trade in the foreseeable future.

Stopping exports as a result of closing the factories will lead in the short term to deprivation of local markets of much needed products at competitive local currency prices, and to the failure of manufacturers to fulfil export obligations that drive foreign currency into the Lebanese economy. In the medium term, international customers will divest from Lebanon, manufacturers will be forced to cut jobs and Lebanon will be more reliant on foreign exports than it is currently.

Industry can play a critical role in supplying local markets with competitively priced products, it can secure ever expanding flows of foreign currency, reduce reliance on imports and create much needed local jobs. Halting industry and manufacturing activities can only derail further a heavily impacted industry driving it towards an inability to recover capacity.

Lessons learnt from other countries should be applied in Lebanon

Since the beginning of the pandemic and even in complete lockdown scenarios, European countries have allowed basic sectors, especially industry and services to work to secure life supplies and consumer goods for citizens. Looking at the French example, many lessons can be applied as of today as regards safety measures for the Lebanese Industrial sector.

Some measures recommended by the Ministry for Labour and Employment in France are:

  • To respect the standard guidance of health safety such as mandatory face masks for employees, frequent cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, equipment and furniture or physical distancing measures between workers;
  • To prepare the sites and offices to host employees safely;
  • To implement organisational measures such as: avoiding crowed spaces by staggering working hours;
  • To encourage remote working and manage the flow of employees within the working space; and
  • To suspending shared moments for employees, avoid the use of shared tools and ensure the conformity and proper functioning of ventilation systems.

To access to the manual, please visit the French Ministry for Labour and Employment’s website: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/covid-19_ouvrier_de_production_v221220.pdf.

On top of the above, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists is committed to implement the following measures:

  • The industrialists, at their expense, will carry out periodic PCR examinations for the workers of their factories and secure vaccines for them when the conditions for importing the vaccine permit;
  • A list of vehicles approved for transporting employees (buses, private cars) while respecting social distancing measures;
  • On top of mandatory medical masks, the use of medical gloves whenever possible, as well as alcoholic gels for frequent disinfection of hands.

Cedar Oxygen (CedarO2) and the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI) strongly suggest implementing the above solutions that are mindful of all the health concerns surrounding the Covid -19 pandemic. On top of this and as part of their joint mission to support the Lebanese Industrialists and promote the “Made in Lebanon” initiative, ALI and CedarO2 are issuing a national call to all Industrialists and economic stakeholders to take advantage of the current situation in order to reorganize, prepare and rebound stronger once the full lockdown is lifted.

Therefore, CedarO2 is proposing several actions in order to support the industrial sector during this difficult period:

  • Usage of its digital onboarding platform by potential borrowers, allowing them to submit their financing application and documents at the click of a button on CedarO2 online platform.
  • The CedarO2 front office team in Beirut is also available via email ([email protected]) and phone (Wissam Ghorra, Business Development Manager, +961 3 765 764 and Anthony Jabbour, Managing Director, +961 70 686 463), 24/7, to assist the industrialists and answer any of their questions in order to complete their files ASAP.
  • All files that are completed will then be reviewed and approved/rejected on a weekly basis by CedarO2 investment and credit committee and financing lines made available immediately after the legal documentation is completed and contracts signed electronically.

The lockdown is indeed a huge blow to the Industrialists unable to operate, but it is also an opportunity to take a step back and refine all their needs once the lockdown is lifted, such as raw material and financing needs. The more applications are completed and approved during this period, the more financing will be available as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

We are mobilizing all our resources and teams in Paris and in Beirut in order to support our industrial sector and make sure that all financing demands are completed and answered in very short periods

This is a unity call made by Cedar O2 and ALI to both the government institutions to reconsider and evaluate their current and future decisions based on best practices adopted by countries like France, and to Industrialists to proactively position themselves for a return of activity with readily available financing lines.

Boilerplate about Cedar Oxygen:

Cedar Oxygen is a Luxembourg domiciled, impact investment trade finance platform which was established in May 2020 by an experienced team of Lebanese expat, US and EU financial services professionals and investors. Its sole purpose is to alleviate the crisis Lebanon is experiencing by developing short duration lending solutions for Lebanese industrialists, both importers & exporters, to trade their way out of the economic crisis.

Cedar Oxygen has a dedicated team of professionals, supported by best in class service providers in Luxembourg.  It works in partnership with a select number of local partner banks and the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.

Cedar Oxygen is a member of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and the platform is aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG). We report annually on the impact delivered through our investment strategy

Cedar Oxygen

Alexandre Harkous            Wissam Ghorra                                             Karl Naïm

Association of Lebanese Industrialists

Dr Fady Gemayel                Georges Nasraoui                                       Ziad Bekdach

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