Exclusive agencies are now among the main suspects explaining the significant increase in prices. They are thus regularly accused of having set up real economic cartels controlling a large part of the Lebanese economy. A net importing country, Lebanon largely depends on exclusive agencies for most of its needs.

The Hassan Diab government thus presented a new plan to abolish exclusive agencies , one of the conditions of international economic aid and also a request from the IMF allowing the entry of the Country of the Cedars within the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its first drafts. However, following significant pressure, this project was quickly dismissed in the final version of this plan which was also the subject of strong opposition from the association of banks in Lebanon.

The trade balance between 2009 and 2019. Photo Credit Statista 2021

In addition, the exclusive agencies were among the main beneficiaries of the monetary policy conducted by the Bank of Lebanon with a maintenance of an artificial parity overvaluing the Lebanese pound against the dollar. Thus, Lebanese consumers were led to overconsume luxury products marketed by exclusive agencies when the economy itself did not have the capacity. While the balance of payments was thus generally positive due to a constant financial flow from the diaspora, the trade balance was generally negative by several billion dollars. This is one of the factors that brought Lebanon to the liquidity crisis and the financial crisis it is currently going through.

There are some 300 exclusive agencies in Lebanon, the most important and best known of which are Ketteneh, Fattal and Abou Adal, which in fact often have very close links with the political class. They must be registered with the Ministry of the Economy .

Certain companies are also accused of having established quasi-monopolies in certain sectors of activity which are normally free to competition. This is particularly the case for certain food products or even certain medical products and equipment refusing, for example, to repair equipment that has not been purchased directly from them.

Today, exclusive agencies face significant difficulties in pursuing imports due to the current financial condition of the financial sector. Local banks and even the Banque du Liban are struggling to provide the necessary credit lines to allow imports to continue.

August 4, 1967

Creation of exclusive agencies

Legislative Decree No. 34 allows the creation of exclusive agencies in Lebanon.
According to the authors of this decree, it was a question of guaranteeing the quality of products and public safety.

August 4, 1967
February 6, 1975

Cancellation of exclusive agencies in the food sector

Abbas Khalaf, Minister of Economy and Trade, publishes Decree No. 9639 making exclusive agencies in the food sector illegal. They remain, however, maintained for drugs even if the initial project also provided for their abolition.

February 6, 1975
April 5, 1992

Cancellation of exclusive agencies for products considered not to be a luxury

Decree 2339 cancels the exclusivity of agencies for items not considered to be luxury products. In addition to food products, it is also household products.
However, the exclusive agencies for medical equipment are maintained by this same decree.

April 5, 1992
February 14, 2002

Abolition of monopoly in many fields of activity

The government is removing the monopolies in the importation of many products such as drugs and petroleum products.
He also wants exclusive agencies to be abolished within 5 years through the adoption of Decree 7484 which will be submitted to the Lebanese Parliament.

February 14, 2002
January 29, 2004

Approval of law 7484 with numerous amendments by Parliament but dismissal of the law by President Emile Lahoud

Lebanese parliamentarians approve Decree 7484, however widely amended and abolishing exclusive agencies. It should be implemented within 4 years of its publication in the Official Journal.

The President of the Republic Emile Lahoud will however refuse to sign the decree publishing the law because of fears about the quality of imported products. At the same time, a media campaign sponsored by the owners of exclusive agencies believes that this project is targeting certain religious communities.

January 29, 2004
March 1, 2020

April 2020

The Hassan Diab government is considering the total abolition of exclusive agencies as part of its bailout after declaring a state of default.

March 1, 2020

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Expert économique, François el Bacha est l'un des membres fondateurs de Libnanews.com. Il a notamment travaillé pour des projets multiples, allant du secteur bancaire aux problèmes socio-économiques et plus spécifiquement en terme de diversité au sein des entreprises.