JERUSALEM (Aug. 10)
Trade by Lebanese merchants with Israeli firms in July reached a volume for the month of $4 million and a delegation of Lebanese tradesmen who visited Israel last week placed orders to talling a similar amount, it was reported here.
Lebanese commerce with Israelis has been going on for the past five years, since the opening of the “good fence” on the Israel-Leban border, a wide-open crossover point. Before Israel sent its forces into Lebanon on June 6, most of the Lebanese traders come from the south Lebanese sector controlled by Maj. Saad Haddad and his Christian militia. Since then, officials said, the number of merchants from other parts of Lebanon has increased.
Initially, the merchants from Tyre and Sidon received special permits to go to the “good fence” border points where they bought products from Israeli tradesmen. Later, they received permits to enter Israel proper, to make purchases.
The Lebanese tradespeople buy mostly food, medical supplies construction materials, as well as electrical appliances, American cigarettes, batteries and similar items. Officials said the $4 million in purchases amounted to more than the value of all business transactions between Israel and Egypt since the two countries signed their peace treaty four years ago.
Before the war, Lebanese buyers purchased products from Israel at a volume of $500,000 to $700,000 a month. Zvi Amit, director general of the Israel Chamber of Commerce Association, said “this is only the beginning. These are only feelers. Lebanon is a huge market, which serves as an intermediary market to the entire Arab world.”