Lebanese businessman encourages traders to open offices in China

By Dana Halawi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 25, 2019
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Fouad Zmokhol, founder of Association of Lebanese Business People in the World (RDCL World), has encouraged Lebanese importers to open offices in China to facilitate and improve their businesses.

"We have been advising companies to go and settle in China. Merchants have to be on the ground to check quality and delivery," Zmokhol told Xinhua in an interview, adding that a lot of successful Lebanese traders have intermediary offices in China, which enable them to resell products to Lebanon and lots of other countries around the world.

Zmokhol also said that traders who have offices in China have better chances to contain risks.

"It is much easier to work with intermediaries who have offices and are settled down in China than working directly with Chinese companies because of the language and distance barriers in addition to unfamiliar legal procedures," he said.

Zmokhol said that Lebanon imports lots of its goods from China.

"All the successful trade stories in Lebanon have to do with China," Zmokhol said, adding that China is one of Lebanon's most important trade partners.

In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached nearly US$1.9 billion, making China Lebanon's second largest trade partner.

Figures released by Lebanese Customs showed that during the 2013-2016 period, China remained as Lebanon's largest trade partner and the largest source of imports.

Lebanon's major imports from China included electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, furniture and vehicles, while Lebanon's exports to China mainly included copper, plastics, beverages and cocoa.

Zmokhol said that Lebanon's exports to China were on a lower scale.

"Lebanon cannot be a massive exporter. We are only a niche exporter, we have small quantities to export compared with China," he said.

"This is what makes us complementary to China and not competitive," he added.

The young businessman said that China's relation with Lebanon has evolved over the past ten years from trade only to investments.

"The Chinese have invested in Lebanon in oil and gas, power, and infrastructure projects in the country. We have received lots of delegations from the Chinese private and public sectors interested in investing in Lebanon," he said.

He added that he encourages the establishment of strategic partners with the Chinese traders because "they proved to be very mature with excellent delivery and follow up."

Zmokhol emphasized the need to build strategic alliances because it is no longer easy to work individually.

"The model has completely changed today. We have to work in groups and build productive and strategic synergies. A Lebanese and a Chinese businessman together can do an excellent work. I encourage Chinese investors to come and identify good Lebanese partners because it is difficult to start from zero if they are willing to invest in Lebanon," he said.

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