France and Lebanon

Presentation

Political relations

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

Visits

Visits 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 Rai
  • 6-8 September 2013: visit by the President of Lebanon, 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 2013: visit by the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal, Bechara Rai
  • 21-23 July 2015: visit by Lebanon’s Minister of the Interior, Nohad Machnouk
  • 3 April 2017: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri
  • 20-22 June 2017: visit by Lebanon’s Minister of Culture, Ghattas Khoury
  • 31 August-1 September 2017: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri
  • 25-27 November 2017: State visit by Lebanese President Michel Aoun
  • 14 November 2017: visit by the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil
  • 18-21 November 2017: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri
  • 30 November-1 December 2017: visit by the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Marwan Hamadé
  • 8 December 2017: in the framework of the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, visit by a Lebanese delegation made up of the Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil
  • 26 March 2018: for the preparatory meeting ahead of the Economic Conference for Development through Reforms with the Private Sector (CEDRE), visit by a Lebanese delegation made up of the Minister of Economy and Trade, Raed Khoury, and the Minister of Telecommunications, Jamal el-Jarrah.
  • 6 April 2018: for the CEDRE conference, visit by a Lebanese delegation made up of the President of the Council of Ministers, Saad Hariri, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, the Minister of Economy and Trade, Raed Khoury, the Minister of Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil, the Minister of Energy and Water, César Abi Khalil, and the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Youssef Finianos.

Visits to Lebanon

  • June 2012: visit by the Minister Delegate for Francophonie, Yamina Benguigui.
  • August 2012: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius.
  • September 2012: visit by the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • October 2012: visit by the Minister Delegate for Francophonie, Yamina Benguigui.
  • 4 November 2012: visit by the French President, François Hollande.
  • 1 October 2013: visit by the Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad, Hélène Conway-Mouret.
  • 14 October 2013: visit by the Minister Delegate for Veterans, Kader Arif.
  • 25-29 September 2014: visit by the Minister for Decentralization and the Civil Service, Marylise Lebranchu.
  • 21-23 March 2015: visit by the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Annick Girardin.
  • 20-21 April 2015: visit by the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • 22-24 October 2015: visit by the President of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher.
  • 26 October 2015: visit by the Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve.
  • 21-22 January 2016: visit by the Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, 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, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
  • 28-29 September 2016: visit by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, Matthias Fekl.
  • 3-5 November 2016: visit by the Minister of Culture and Communication, Audrey Azoulay.
  • 21-22 December 2016: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
  • 9-12 February 2017: visit by the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine.
  • 6-7 March 2017: visit by the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • 19-21 March 2017: visit by the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Jean-Marie Le Guen.

For more information, consult the website of the French Embassy in Lebanon

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 turn of the century, the number of companies exporting to Lebanon has sharply increased compared to the mid- and late 2000s. More than 4,500 French businesses exported to Lebanon in 2016, 70% of which were SMEs and 23% intermediate-sized enterprises. Exports from France to Lebanon totalled €886 million in 2016, with imports at €48 million.

The stock of direct French investment in Lebanon reached a record €534 million at the end of 2015. The stock of Lebanese investment in France has been growing since the end of 2009: it had reached €3 billion by late 2015 and accounted for 45% of the stock of foreign direct investment for Middle Eastern countries in France.

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

On 6 April 2018, France organized the Economic Conference for Development through Reforms with the Private Sector (CEDRE) in support of Lebanon. The Conference aimed to support the development and consolidation of the Lebanese economy as part of an overall reform and infrastructure investment plan prepared by the Lebanese authorities and presented during the event. France committed €550 million in grants and soft loans. In total, following the Conference, commitments of €11 billion in grants and loans were made for Lebanon, which will allow it to modernize its infrastructure and strengthen its economy’s resilience.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our policy of cooperation and development in Lebanon has five main objectives: consolidating the rule of law, economic and social development, environmental and heritage protection, university and research cooperation, cultural exchanges and 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 the two 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: supporting vulnerable populations, ensuring equitable access to quality health care and education services, strengthening the private sector, and supporting 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.

For more information, visit:

Security 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 population as a whole. France helps strengthen the LAF by assisting them in carrying out their missions throughout Lebanon, including in the area under UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) jurisdiction, where the Lebanese Army will gradually take over all United Nations missions in accordance with resolution 1701.

Assistance in addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis

France stands beside Lebanon in the face of the humanitarian crisis. France’s assistance to Lebanon from 2012 to 2016 stood at €105 million, more than a third of our assistance relating to the Syrian crisis. During the London Conference in February 2016, France announced that it would assist the region in the form of grants worth €200 million over the period 2016-2018. In April 2016, the President of the French Republic announced that €100 million would be allocated to Lebanon. A total of €50 million was disbursed in 2016.

During the Brussels conference on 25 April 2018, France announced that its effort for the period 2018-2020 would total more than €1 billion for the Syrian people and host communities: almost €250 million in grants and €850 billion in loans. This commitment includes the emergency response programme for Syria of €50 million, which was announced on 16 April 2018 by the French President. A large share of this support is dedicated to Lebanon.

Updated: June 2018