France and Lebanon

Presentation

Political relations

France is one of Lebanon’s leading European political partners, as shown by the intense political bilateral relations (visits, including that of the President of the French Republic François Hollande on 16-17 April 2016) and France’s constant support for resolutions upholding the sovereignty of Lebanon at the United Nations. France supports the stability, unity, independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.

Visits (since 2012)

To France:

  • 10 February 2012: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati
  • 12 July 2012: visit by the President of the Lebanese Republic Michel Sleiman
  • 19-21 November 2012: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati
  • 8-9 April 2013: visit by the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara al-Rahi
  • 6-8 September 2013: visit by the President of the Lebanese Republic Michel Sleiman
  • 26 November 2013: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati
  • 4-6 March 2014: in the context of the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG), visit by a Lebanese delegation consisting of the President of the Lebanese Republic Michel Sleiman, the Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the Defence Minister Samir Mokbel and the Social Affairs Minister Rachid Derbas.
  • 25-28 April 2015: visit by the Maronite Patriarch
  • 21-23 July 2015: visit by the Lebanese Interior Minister, Mr Nohad Machnouk

To Lebanon

  • June 2012: visit by the French Minister with responsibility for Francophony Yamina Benguigui
  • August 2012: visit by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
  • September 2012: visit by the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian
  • October 2012: visit by the French Minister with responsibility for Francophony Yamina Benguigui
  • 4 November 2012: visit by the French President François Hollande
  • 1 October 2013: visit by Hélène Conway-Mouret, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad
  • 14 October 2013: visit by the French Minister Delegate for Veterans Kader Arif
  • 25-29 September 2014: visit by the French Minister for Decentralization and the Civil Service, Marylise Lebranchu.
  • 21-23 March 2015 : visit by the French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Annick Girardin.
  • 20-21 April 2015: visit by the French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • 22-24 October 2015: visit by the President of the French Senate, Mr Gérard Larcher.
  • 26 October 2015: visit by the French Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve.
  • 21-22 January 2016: visit by the Minister of State for Veterans, Mr Jean-Marc Todeschini.
  • 16-17 April 2016: visit by the President of the French Republic, François Hollande
  • 11-12 July 2016: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault
  • 28-29 September 2016: visit by Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
  • 3-5 November 2016: visit by the Minister of Culture, Audrey Azoulay

Economic relations

France, together with China, Italy, Germany and the United States, is one of Lebanon’s main suppliers. Although it has fallen since the start of the 2000s, the number of companies exporting to Lebanon has sharply increased compared to the mid-2000s or the second half of the 2000s. Almost 4,500 French companies exported to Lebanon in 2015, 21% of which were micro-enterprises, 48% SMEs, 24% mid-size companies and 7% large companies.

Exports from France to Lebanon were €998 million in 2015, with imports at €54 million.

The stock of direct French investment in Lebanon reached a record €503 million at the end of 2014. The stock of Lebanese investment in France has been growing since the end of 2009: it had reached €2.4 billion by late 2014 and accounted for 35% of the stock of foreign direct investment for Middle Eastern countries in France.

There are almost 100 French companies set up in Lebanon, in a variety of sectors, including agri-food, telecommunications, retail, the oil industry and financial services.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our policy of cooperation and development in Lebanon has five main objectives: consolidation of the rule of law, economic and social development, environmental and heritage protection, university and research cooperation, cultural exchanges and intellectual debate.

The French language is still widely used in Lebanon despite the growing use of English in business and the media and the fact that both languages increasingly co-exist in education. Promoting the French language in Lebanon is a strategic imperative.

The Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency – AFD) has been established in Lebanon since 1999 and has signed 27 financing agreements there worth a cumulative amount of €1.167 billion, comprising €875 million in budgetary aid and €292 million in project aid. It has four main objectives: support for vulnerable populations, equitable access to quality health care and education services, strengthening of the private sector and support for the development of sustainable cities. It is seeking to promote the synergy and complementarity of French cooperation tools and to promote French expertise in implementing its activities.

Other cooperation

There is extensive bilateral cooperation in the fields of internal security and civil defence, and in the military field. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) remain a mainstay of the nation and have the support of the entire population. France helps strengthen the LAF by assisting them in carrying out their missions throughout Lebanon, including in the area under UNIFIL jurisdiction, where the Lebanese Army will gradually have to take over all United Nations missions, in accordance with Resolution 1701. The LAF Commander, General Jean Kahwaji, was received in France in July 2011 and January 2013.

Updated: 29 December 2016

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