Bypassing Syria

BEIRUT: The Agriculture Ministry is pursuing efforts to facilitate maritime transport to compensate for delays in land cargo through Syria, where the security situation has deteriorated significantly in the last few weeks.

However, Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said efforts to promote maritime transport should be part of a long-term comprehensive plan to boost exports of produce, rather than a temporary exception based on the current situation in Syria.

“Both the Lebanese state and exporters have an interest in establishing stable maritime routes to boost our exports and lower costs. Such efforts are not the result of challenges facing land transport due to the security situation in Syria,” Hajj Hasan told a news conference Monday.

Nearly 80 percent of Lebanon’s agricultural exports go through Syria and the rest is shipped to Europe via Beirut Port.

The head of Lebanon’s Farmers Association, Antoine Howayek, has urged the government on several occasions to create a maritime route to export Lebanese produce to Gulf markets following the closure of the main border crossing between Lebanon and Syria to trucks over the weekend.

Last week, some 70 trucks carrying an estimated 7,000 tons of fruits, vegetables and eggs were not able to cross the border after Syrian authorities closed it.

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Article and image courtesy of The Daily Star Lebanon.

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