Last updated in May 2018
Relations between Germany and Lebanon have traditionally been friendly. Germany is held in high regard in Lebanon for the considerable financial support it has provided for refugees from Syria (approx. one million are registered with UNHCR’
At the second Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region on 24 and 25 April 2018, Germany announced that it would continue to provide extensive assistance to Lebanon, also in view of the refugee crisis. Cooperation focuses on humanitarian assistance, education and the water sector. This commitment builds on the agreements reached between the German and Lebanese Governments at the 2016 London Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region and the 2017 Brussels Conference.
Since the CEDRE Conference, a donor conference initiated by France and held in Paris on 6 April 2018, Lebanon can count on pledges from the international community totalling an estimated eleven billion US dollars. This sum is made up primarily of agreed loans from international development banks aimed at supporting investment projects in the fields of energy and water supply, telecommunications, transport, education and health.
’Germany and Lebanon enjoy close bilateral exchanges. Federal President Frank‑Walter Steinmeier visited Lebanon for political talks on 30 and 31 January 2018. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Brussels on 24 April 2018. During a trip to Lebanon in October 2016, Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller pledged an increase in German support.
Despite its relatively small size, Lebanon offers interesting business opportunities for German companies. While only a small number of firms such as Lufthansa and Commerzbank have branches in Beirut, there are more than 300 agents in the country representing major brands such as Mercedes‑Benz, Bosch and Siemens as well as lesser-known small and medium‑sized companies from various German Länder. Some of these representatives have joined forces to form the Lebanese German Business Council. At present, there is no German Chamber of Commerce Abroad in Lebanon.
In addition, German companies regularly participate in tenders called by the Lebanese Government or private investors, and often win. Firms from Hamburg and Ulm, for example, are currently involved in the expansion of the port of Beirut and the construction of power plants. Information about current public tenders is available on the websites of the Lebanese authorities.
Lebanon places great hopes in the natural gas and oil reserves thought to be off the Lebanese coast (estimated at 30 trillion cubic feet of gas and 660 million barrels of oil). Licences for exploration in blocks 4 and 9 have been granted to an international consortium comprising Eni, Total and Novatek. The exploration phase is scheduled to run until 2020.
Lebanon runs a significant deficit in its trade with Germany. Lebanon’s main imports from Germany are motor vehicles and vehicle parts, machinery, chemical products and pharmaceuticals. In 2016 it imported goods worth approx. 845 million euros. Germany is thus one of Lebanon’s biggest import partners. In 2016 Lebanon exported to Germany goods worth 454.54 million euros.
A bilateral investment protection agreement was signed in 1999. There is, however, hardly any German direct investment in Lebanon. At present, there is no double taxation agreement between the two countries.
Humanitarian assistance, development cooperation and crisis prevention
Since the outbreak of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, Lebanon, with its population of approximately four million, has taken in 991,000 UNRWA-registered refugees from Syria. Germany is supporting efforts of UN agencies (WFP, UNHCR), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and humanitarian NGOs to meet the refugees’ basic needs.
In 2017 alone, the German Government contributed around 370 million euros to help Lebanon deal with the consequences of the Syrian crisis as well as to strengthen Lebanese institutions. Priority areas of German support include humanitarian assistance and education. The funding is being made available by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In view of the large numbers of refugees in Lebanon, the German Government has resumed bilateral development cooperation.
The focus is on measures to provide refugees and the communities hosting them with assistance in the areas of education, vocational training and water supply.
In recent years, several projects have been supported from the Federal Foreign Office’s crisis prevention funding, including vocational training for young Palestinians in the Nahr al‑Bared refugee camp (in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the aid organisation Mercy Corps), the reconstruction of Lebanon’s coastal radar system as well as associated training measures for the Lebanese Navy, measures to secure and modernise the border with Syria, and financial support for the international Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Federal Foreign Office also supports the long‑term resolution of political and religious conflicts in Lebanon.
Cultural relations between Lebanon and Germany have traditionally been close and wide‑ranging. Priority areas are the preservation of cultural heritage and archaeological work at Baalbek, Anjar, Tell el‑Burak and Kamid el‑Loz. In 2010, the two Lebanese schools offering enhanced German instruction launched exchange programmes with German schools. There is also an increasing number of exchange programmes between German and Lebanese universities. A bilateral cultural cooperation agreement was approved by the Lebanese Cabinet in June 2010.
The following German cultural institutions and private initiatives relating to Germany are active in Lebanon:
- the Goethe-Institut in Beirut
- the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) of the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad
- the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which provides a lector who offers advisory services to all Lebanese students and universities
- documentation centre of the German Archaeological Institute in Baalbek
- the German-language Evangelical congregation in Beirut
- the German International School Beirut (with integrated kindergarten) offering enhanced German instruction
- the Deutsche Schule Jounieh (with integrated kindergarten) offering enhanced German instruction and the attached cultural centre
- offices of the Konrad‑Adenauer‑Stiftung, the Friedrich‑Ebert‑Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
- the Johann Ludwig Schneller School in Khirbet Qanafar (Bekaa Valley), supported by the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, also offering vocational and technical education, and the New Apostolic Church in the Sin el‑Fil suburb of Beirut
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.