How did the Tripoli Special Economic Zone (TSEZ) project get started?

For a very long time, the northern part of Lebanon was marginalized from economic activity and investment. Indicators on poverty, economy, and development were always ranked lowest in the north of Lebanon. So, in 2007, the concept for the TSEZ started to be discussed in terms of how to foster economic momentum in Tripoli that would guarantee sustainable growth for that part of the country as a whole. By 2009 the entire legal framework was put in place but the decision to appoint a board of directors was delayed.

We started the feasibility process with $1.5 million in funding from USAID and this was a comprehensive and complex study, yet relevant in shedding light on what we could do with the project. The feasibility study assessed three different locations for the TSEZ, as well as the market assessment, the demand forecasting, the development of the financial and operational models, the implementation plan, and the identification of the sectors. Finally, in 2015, the Council of Ministers appointed a board of directors, and we are now preparing to set the TSEZ in motion.

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The country enjoys a free-market economy, although US ratings agency Moody’s recently downgraded its B1 standing from stable to negative. In 2001, the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) was established to encourage investment in the country, offering tax breaks and a series of exemptions to companies upon both set-up and operation. Foreign investment is not restricted and the economy’s main areas of strength include banking and tourism. The average time taken to start a business in the country is nine days, according to IDAL.

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A delegation from the Board of Directors of the Tripoli Special Economic Zone, headed by former Minister Raya al-Hassan visited Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Serail.

The delegation included five members: Antoine Habib, Wassim Mansouri, Ramzi El Hafez, Antoun Diab, and Asheer El Dayeh.

During the meeting, the delegation presented the preparations for the start of the project, and thanked H.E for his continual support.

The delegation also discussed the economic situation in Tripoli and ways to address its problems.
June 2015



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