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Cablegate: Eu Provides More Than 43 Million Euros to Promote Reform

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DE RUEHLB #1220/01 3170713
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130713Z NOV 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6036
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 001220

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EIND PGOV LE
SUBJECT: EU PROVIDES MORE THAN 43 MILLION EUROS TO PROMOTE REFORM
(ECONOMIC WEEK IN REVIEW, NOVEMBER 2-8, 2009)

CONTENTS
--------

-- EU PROVIDES 43 MILLION EUROS TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC REFORM
-- LEBANON'S TOURISM GROWTH HIGHEST WORLDWIDE
-- REAL ESTATE VALUES TO RISE THROUGH 2013
-- LEBANON ONE OF TOP RECIPIENTS OF IMF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
-- NEW AD CAMPAIGN ON COUNTERFEITS LAUNCHED

EU PROVIDES 43 MILLION
EUROS TO PROMOTE REFORM
-----------------------

1. (SBU) The European Commission (EC) announced that it will provide
Lebanon with 43 million euros in grant assistance under its 2009
Annual Action Plan, most of it to be spent on economic reform. Out
of this, 8 million euros will go to support Paris III reforms,
including supporting Lebanon's WTO accession and upgrading tax
administration, EU economist Charles Abdallah told us. This is the
first time the EC will provide assistance for WTO accession, he
said. The EU delegation's Francisco Lopez confirmed that the EU
would begin support for Lebanon's WTO accession and stressed that he
and his colleagues would coordinate closely with the Embassy to try
to ensure no overlap with USAID's WTO accession project at the
Ministry of Economy and Trade.

2. (SBU) The EU's 2009 program will also provide support to
education and public finance management reform (13.7 million euros),
reinforcing human rights and democracy in Lebanon (10 million
euros), demining and unexploded ordnance (7 million), and a new EU
scholarship fund for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (4.3 million
euros). This assistance is provided under the European Neighborhood
Policy and is part of a 187 million euro package of financial
support for Lebanon for the period 2007-2010.

LEBANON'S TOURISM GROWTH
HIGHEST WORLDWIDE
------------------------

3. (U) Lebanon witnessed the highest growth in tourism worldwide in
the first half of 2009, according to the UN World Tourism
Organization (UNWTO). The UNWTO ranked countries based on the
year-to-year change in the number of visiting tourists, comparing
the numbers in the first seven months of 2009 with the same period
in 2008. The survey noted that even if more recent figures were
used, Lebanon would still be in the first spot globally, as the
number of tourists in the first nine months of 2009 rose by 46.3%.
Since the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Tourism has
continually noted that it expects the number of tourists in 2009 to
reach two million, a dramatic increase from the record 1.3 million
who visited in 2008.

REAL ESTATE VALUES
TO RISE THROUGH 2013
--------------------

4. (U) Real estate values in Lebanon will continue to rise through
2013, according to global property news service PropertyWire. The
report estimates that real estate values rose by 9% in the first
eight months of 2009 and will rise by 10-15% each year until 2013.
The value of property transactions was estimated at more than $4.3
billion in 2008 and is expected to be even higher in 2009.
PropertyWire noted that the biggest real estate investors were
wealthy expatriates and Arabs. Residents who have suffered from
skyrocketing prices over the past three years may also increase
their demand following Central Bank of Lebanon (CBL) incentives to
commercial banks to increase housing loans at competitive rates.


LEBANON ONE OF TOP RECIPIENTS
OF IMF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
-----------------------------

5. (U) Lebanon accounted for 10% of the IMF's Middle East Technical
Assistance Center's (METAC) overall allocation of technical
assistance delivery in fiscal year 2009. Out of ten countries,
Lebanon was the fourth-largest recipient of technical assistance in
the region. METAC was established in Beirut in October 2004. Its
assistance to Lebanon focused on public financial management,
Central Bank accounting, banking supervision, macroeconomic
statistics support, and revenue administration.

NEW AD CAMPAIGN ON
COUNTERFEITS LAUNCHED
---------------------

6. (U) The Brand Protection Group (BPG), a group of 22 local and

BEIRUT 00001220 002 OF 002


international companies fighting counterfeits, announced the launch
of a new phase of its media campaign to increase awareness about
counterfeits in the Lebanese market. The campaign is also intended
to encourage consumers to use the consumer protection hotline at the
Ministry of Economy and Trade (MOET), which the BPG helped set up in
2004, to report counterfeits. Last July, as part of its effort to
improve public sector capacity in intellectual property enforcement,
the BPG, in collaboration with the Institute of Finance, held an
eight-week workshop on counterfeit goods for members of Customs and
the Internal Security Forces, as well as inspectors from the MOET's
Consumer Protection Department.

DAUGHTON

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