The objective of the Virtual Industrial Fair was to promote Lebanese products and savoir faire on the European market, and increase industrial trade and exchange between both regions.
More than 40 Lebanese industrialists, across 5 different value-add and productive sectors (Agri-food, Chemical Products, Industrial & Electrical Machinery, Textile & Clothing, Paper & Packaging) were shortlisted to participate and exhibit in the 1st virtual industrial fair in Lebanon on April 29, 2021 to showcase their know-how and products to European raw materials providers and buyers of finished products, Chambers of commerce and impact investors.
This virtual fair was organized by Cedar Oxygen, sponsored by Château Ksara and Zeeni Steel, with the support of the Association of the Lebanese Industrialists and The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL).
609 registered participants coming from 32 countries toured the virtual hall. 1’183 virtual booth visits were accounted for, to check the displayed products and interact with the 41 industrial exhibitors.
The virtual exhibition included an area dedicated to displaying industrialists’ products, a large hall to host lectures in order to discuss ways to support the industrial sector and benefit the economy in general, as well as a networking lounge.
21 keynotes speaker’s sessions, were broadcasted live virtually, addressing the most important challenges facing the industrial sector and the necessary data to overcome them, in order to support future plans to expand its markets internally and in Europe in particular.
Mr. Harkous stressed in his opening remarks that the Lebanese people have a tremendous amount of potential and talent.
“These characteristics are clearly present with Lebanese industrialists, who will always be ready to stand up against the odds to offer the best products from traditions coupled with innovation.”
He explained the Cedar Oxygen initiative that aims to provide the necessary financing to manufacturers to enable them to purchase raw materials by paying their suppliers directly, and to work with manufacturers and their buyers to finance specific projects.
Cedar Oxygen plans to, at a later stage, provide investments in capital expenditures with the aim of expanding Lebanese industrial capacity and better facilitating its production.
Click here to listen to Alexandre Harkous’ opening and vision statements.
Dr. Gemayel spoke about the successes of Lebanese manufacturers in exporting innovative products to difficult-to-penetrate markets, in addition to the traditional products for which Lebanon is famous.
Dr. Gemayel emphasized that the Lebanese industrialist has become an expert in crisis management.
He said, “At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, three Lebanese companies ventured into producing ventilators, sparing the society from shortage, and eventually exporting them all around the world”.
Click here to listen to Dr. Fady Gemayel’s intervention on the overview and the future of the Lebanese Industrial sector.
H.E Jose Maria Ferre, shared a synopsis of bilateral trade relations. Ferre discussed the type of Spanish investments in the local market that focus on the agrifood and pharmaceutical industries. Lebanese investments in Spain are still limited and do not exceed €30 Million. He proposed helping productive sectors that enjoy competitive advantages such as agriculture, agrifood, renewable energy, and tourism.
He said: “The government has created a fund to support the Lebanese industrial sector and do business with Spanish companies. The fund provides up to 85% of the funding at a market rate for small and medium enterprises.”
Click here to listen to H.E Jose Maria Ferre’s complete intervention overlooking the status of bilateral exports and means to enhance them.
Mr. Zafer Chaoui, Head of the Union Vinicole du Liban (UVL) and Chairman of Chateau Ksara gave an overview of the Lebanese wine market. Lebanon’s wine production was considered small, as it does not exceed nine million bottles annually, half of which are exported to about 45 countries. The Lebanese farmer allocates nearly three thousand hectares for vine cultivation, more than 60 percent of which are located in the Bekaa, while the rest of the areas are distributed in the south, Batroun and Mount Lebanon.
He said: “We might not have proof that our region was the first to produce wine worldwide, but we have proof that we were the first to export it 2,600 B.C.”
Click here to listen to Mr. Zafer Chaoui’s intervention on the flourishing Lebanese wine industry: What next?
Mr. Zeeni provided viewers with a summary of the steel sector and the export potential. Mr. Zeeni expressed his willingness to finance his clients and supervise the quality in order to help them export their products to European countries.
He said: “we want to give the opportunity to our clients to grow their businesses by investing in new production lines to improve the ability to meet the needs of the local market and export at the same time.”
Click here to listen to Mr. Ziad Zeeni’s intervention on the overview of the steel industry in Lebanon
Mr. Naïm gave an overview of the Cedar Oxygen initiative as an Economic Recovery Platform established by a team of expatriate business professionals to support the productive sectors, led by the industrial sector, and to promote locally manufactured products.
He said: “Our mission is based on three pillars, which consists of a trade finance fund, a fintech platform and a promotion of the “Made in Lebanon”. All of this with the mindset of creating an impact and promoting ESG practices”
Click here to listen to Mr. Karl Naïm’s session and to know more about Cedar Oxygen 3 pillars & Q&A
Dr. Soueid discussed with viewers the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) future goals including the creation of partnerships with private sector initiatives such as Cedar Oxygen whereby IDAL offers the legal and institutional framework and allows the private sector to implement accordingly. He later highlighted opportunities in the Agri-food sector.
He said: “This is the right place to start. We cannot give up as there are lots of opportunities.”
To support his theory, Dr. Soueid said that agrifood employs 21,000 employees representing 25% of the industrial workforce. It generated 3% of the country’s GDP in 2018. Exports of agrifood accounted for 11.5% of total exports that same year, with a growing CAGR of 2%, showcasing the sector’s resilience.
Click here to listen to Dr. Mazen Soueid’s keynote speech and to know more facts and figures about the agrifood sector.
Mrs. Staelens discussed the values and types of exported production, also sharing a video showcasing the production capabilities of the Flanders region in Belgium. She also focused on two main sectors, agribusiness and textiles.
She said: “Although Flanders is a very small region, it can be a great entry point for your products to access European markets.”
Click here to listen to Mrs. Evelien Staelens giving industrialists a few tips on how to access the European markets and develop relations with Europe.
Mr. Ghorra gave an introductory summary about Cedar Oxygen’s services and plans. He explained the digitalization journey of applications to reach quick and transparent results.
He said: “This is a golden opportunity for Lebanon to export and to be more present in the international market.”
Click here to listen about Cedar Oxygen’s initiative and upcoming activities to assist Lebanese industrialists in promoting their products abroad.
Mrs. Abou Khater talked about the growth of the automation industry in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. She gave examples of the unique concepts Technica is working on to fulfill the needs of their international clients like PepsiCo.
She said: “Despite everything we are going through and despite that we spend 80% of our time in crisis management, we are still able, as Lebanese industrialists, to show the beauty and innovation of what we do.”
Click here to listen to Mrs. Cynthia Abou Khater’s intervention on the added value local automation providers offer to international markets.
Mr. Abi Nasr discussed new trends in the textile industry. He pointed that outsourcing is being looked at seriously by every factory in the industry, especially in light of Covid-19 which collapsed whole supply chains. Sustainable and socially responsible production is another initiative being implemented to help empower the community while keeping the production line up and running.
He said: “The textile industry is probably one of the most labor-centric industries and as labor is becoming less expensive, we are getting more competitive.”
Click here to listen to Mr. Paul Abi Nasr’s intervention on the latest trends in the textile industry and how they are being locally implemented.
Mr. George Nasraoui gave a brief overview about the evolution of the canned foods sector. He discussed potential new markets and the new trend of private labeling.
He said: “The syndicate is interested in improving trade relations with giant international retail chains who are increasingly interested in doing business with manufacturers than with mediators.”
Click here to listen to Mr. George Nasraoui’s intervention on potential opportunities for local products.
Mr. Elie Raphael spoke about the printing, packaging, and paper industry which employs 10,000 people distributed across 200 companies. This sector is among the top five that export the most in Lebanon. Staff are trained by European technicians which raises quality to high levels and makes it extremely competitive.
He said: “About 30% of our production cost is in Lebanese Pound. We can now compete with Far East printers where most Europeans book publishers.”
Click here to listen to Mr. Elie Rafael’s intervention on the status of the printing and packaging industry and international network of clients.
Mr. Saab highlighted the importance of the local paints sector in spreading the knowledge to the Middle East for more than 60 years. The sector is made up of well-versed employees, strategically located on the Mediterranean, innovative, and fast. Saab mentioned that there are plenty of opportunities for private labeling.
He said, “We have created new jobs as the chemicals sector launched the construction of 11 new factories in the second half of 2019.”
Click here to listen to Mr. Chaker Saab’s intervention on development of the local paints industry.
The second panel was held with the participation of Mr. Luis Mayoral – Economic & Commercial Attaché for Spain in Lebanon, Mr. Emanuele D’Andrassi – Economic & Commercial Attaché for Italy in Lebanon and Mr. Aki Kauppinen – Economic & Commercial Attaché for Finland in Lebanon sharing with the attendees the experiences of each country; the experience of an Italian partnership with a Lebanese Industry by creating a Joint Venture and how this business model can be replicated with other Lebanese manufacturers.
Mr. Mayoral talked about the Spanish experience after the 2008 crisis and how the role of the Industry was crucial to sustain the Spanish economy. Mr. Kauppinen talked about the historical relationship between Finland and strategic partners in Lebanon mainly the Chaoui group that has been lasting for around 100 years. He shared the Finnish industrial experience and how it changed over the years to become today one of the leaders in Tech industries and other specialized industries.
Click here to listen to the European economic attaches’ intervention to learn more about the experiences these countries faced and how they can be replicated in Lebanon.
The Fair was concluded by a session on the role of the Lebanese economic attaches and an overview of trade relations with Belgium, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. Mr. Rachel Alameddine, Mr. Saadallah Zaiter, Mr. Ralph Nehme, and Mr. Abdo Medlej, the economic attaches of Lebanon in France, Belgium, UK, and Germany respectively participated in the session giving an account about their efforts to increase exports to Europe. While some are working on amending the legal framework, others are attempting to forge new relations and joint ventures between manufacturers and traders. At the end of the session, participants commended Cedar Oxygen’s role in assisting manufacturers access much needed hard currency.
Click here to listen to the economic attaches’ intervention to learn more about their efforts to boost Lebanese exports in Europe.
The Launching of the Cedar Oxygen “Made in Lebanon” Virtual Fair in the Press:
Lebanese International Press
During the Cedar Oxygen “Made in Lebanon” Virtual Fair in the Press:
Al Jadeed TV
Arabic Media News
New Hub News