Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has hosted the first Council meeting of the UK-Lebanon Association Agreement in the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants in Beirut, in the presence of the British Ambassador to Lebanon Ian Collard and Luciana Verda, Head of wider Middle East Trade Policy at the UK’s Department for International Trade.
Ambassador Collard and FM Bou Habib had “fruitful discussions” on the development of the bilateral economic partnership and trading relationship between the United Kingdom and Lebanon as both countries build on the Association Agreement that was signed in September 2019, the British embassy said.
Collard and Bou Habib also reaffirmed their vision of “a Strategic Partnership to deepen the UK and Lebanon’s economic and security relations, strengthen their cultural ties, offer humanitarian support and backing to the Lebanese Army, in addition to helping each other build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic and sustaining economic resilience by contributing to Lebanon’s reform plan.”
They expressed their “shared ambition” to expand the economic links between the two countries, including developing trade and investment, which despite the economic crisis has resulted in UK-Lebanon bilateral trade in goods and services reaching £547 million in 2020-2021.
The Trade subcommittee, co-chaired by the Director General of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Mohammed Abou Haydar and Ambassador Collard, also explored “opportunities to deepen this relationship and increase bilateral trade and investment, including by ensuring that the Association Agreement is implemented as effectively as possible, and through addressing market access barriers that British and Lebanese companies face when doing business.”
This was followed by a political Dialogue co-chaired by Ambassador Ghady El Khoury and British Ambassador Collard, during which themes of common interest were tackled such as the bilateral relations, security and human rights.
After the meeting British Ambassador Collard said: “I am very pleased to have held our first Council meeting of the UK-Lebanon Association Agreement with Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib. Despite the immense challenges facing Lebanon, our strategic partnership will deepen the UK and Lebanon’s economic and security relations, strengthen our cultural ties, and offer humanitarian support and backing to the Lebanese Army.”
“This is in addition to helping each other build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic and sustain economic resilience by contributing to Lebanon’s reform plan,” he added.