Bilateral Relations
Home > India & Lebanon > Bilateral Relations

Bilateral Relations

Embassy of India, Beirut

Brief on India-Lebanon Bilateral Relations

Overview

India and Lebanon have had traditionally amicable relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1954. Shared commonalities include a democratic, parliamentary system of government based on a written constitution which guarantees the rule of law, certain basic freedoms and human rights such as freedom of expression, with a market economy which is moving towards greater liberalization, a large pool of educated people and a vibrant entrepreneurial class.

The fact that India kept its Embassy in Beirut open and functioning throughout the civil war (from 1975 to 1990, closing briefly from August 5 to October 16, 1989), in contrast to a large number of other foreign Embassies in Beirut, is appreciated by the Lebanese, together with India’s traditionally strong linkages with the Arab world, solidarity for the Palestine cause, and most recently our balanced and calibrated approach on Arab Spring developments including Syria. Both countries have also cooperated closely on various issues of mutual interest during their overlap in 2010 as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Lebanese officials and political representatives have traditionally praised the professional excellence and commitment of the Indian contingent deployed in the UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon, and positive reports have appeared in the Lebanese media about free medicines and medical care being provided by Indian doctors from the UNFIL contingent to villagers in south Lebanon.

People-to-people ties have remained warm and cordial, with Bollywood playing an important role and with regular coverage in the Lebanese media on developments in India.

However, Lebanon has not been an important strategic partner for India, and the development of bilateral interaction has been further limited by the domestic and regional challenges faced by Lebanon over the years, beginning with the onset of the civil war in 1975.  This scenario may be set to change with the possibility of Indian participation in the exploitation of Lebanon’s offshore gas and oil reserves. With the increasing instability in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq, Lebanon itself also needs to find new markets and partners in economic cooperation. There is a window for India to establish a presence in this country by providing developmental aid as also by increasing our involvement in sectors such as infrastructure, power and alternative energy, information technology, education and agriculture.

Political interaction

Visits from Lebanon: Lebanon’s last high-level visit to India took place when Foreign Minister Fariz Boueiz visited India in 1997 on the occasion of the Non-Aligned Ministerial Conference in New Delhi.

Visits from India: Shri E. Ahmad, Minister of State (MOS) for External Affairs visited Lebanon from September 28 to October 1, 2005. Special Envoy to PM, Shri C.R. Gharekhan, visited Beirut in July 2006 in tandem with an IAF plane carrying relief supplies required by Lebanon in the aftermath of the July 2006 conflict with Israel. MOS for Defence, Shri MM Pallam Raju, along with a MOD delegation visited the INDBATT in UNIFIL, South Lebanon from 10 September, 2008 to 12 September 2008. MOS, Shri E. Ahmad, again visited Lebanon from 30th June to 2nd July 2013.

Mr. Marwan Kheireddine, Lebanese Minister of State, met with MOS, Shri E. Ahmad on the sidelines of the Arab-India Partnership conference (22-23 May, 2013) in Abu Dhabi (UAE).  Secretary (East), Mr. Anil Wadhwa, visited Lebanon from 27-30 March, 2014.

Parliamentary Friendship Committee: A Lebanon-India Parliamentary Friendship Committee was established in April 2006 with 12 members drawn from a cross section of political/ religious groups.  Lok Sabha Secretariat has been requested to establish its counterpart in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Peacekeeping – INDBATT in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL): An Indian battalion (INDBATT) has been deployed in UNIFIL since November 1998. At present, this battalion consists of 860 defense personnel including 4 doctors and 1 nursing staff officer, who are deployed in the eastern-most sector of Lebanon’s southern border with Israel at the tri-junction with Syria. In addition, 16 Indian defense personnel (including the Deputy Force Commander) are based in UNIFIL Headquarters, Nacquora, together with a 21-member medical team. 

Bilateral Agreements/MOUs: There is a Cultural Exchange Agreement (signed in April 1997, ratified in February 2000, which is automatically renewed every 5 years and therefore still valid) and a MOU for an Educational Exchange Program (signed in June 2013, valid for 5 years, to be automatically renewed every 5 years).

Agreements/MOUs under consideration: Drafts MOUs for cooperation in Agriculture & Allied sectors, for holding regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOC), and for expediting issue of Lebanese visas to Indian business men and tourists, as also draft agreements on Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection (BIPPA), Cooperation in the Tourism sector, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Extradition, Mutual & Legal Assistance and Judicial Cooperation are under consideration.

Relief And Rehabilitation Assistance From India: Assistance of Rs. 10 crores was announced in July 2006 as humanitarian aid for reconstruction after the 34-day Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, and against this commitment, blankets, tents and medicines worth around Rs. 45 lakhs were provided. In October 2007, US$ 600,000 was committed for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Palestinian refugee camps in northern Lebanon, but no disbursements have been made against this commitment. Proposals for providing developmental assistance to Lebanon are currently under consideration of the Indian government, including a project for setting up a pilot solar or wind energy plant in Lebanon.  In 2014, India provided half a million US Dollars to Lebanon’s Emergency Response Fund.

Economic Interaction

Development of trade ties: Indo-Lebanon trade, which had come to a virtual halt during the civil war, has increased in recent years. From US$ 13.60 million in 1993, and US$ 55 million in 1999, the two-way bilateral trade during 2012 was to the tune of USD 370 million, and this increased further in 2014 to $ 429.78 million. With Indian exports to Lebanon amounting to US$ 406.13 million in 2014, the balance of trade is predominantly in favour of India. In addition, many products are being sourced in India by Lebanese companies for export to Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Volume of bilateral trade [India & Lebanon]:

     Year

India’s Export to Lebanon

 

India’s Import from Lebanon

 Total trade

2004

US$114 m

US$27 m

US$141 m

2005

US$139 m

US$20 m

US$159 m

2006

US$118 m

US$12 m

US$130 m

2007

US$176 m

US$11 m

US$187 m

2008

US$ 229 m

US$13 m

US$ 242 m

2009

US$ 327 m

US$ 12 m

US$ 339 m

2010

US$ 320 m

US$ 18 m

US$ 338 m

2011

US$ 354m

US$ 19m

US$ 373 m

 2012

US$ 349m

US$ 21m

US$ 370 m

2013

US$407.81m

US$ 25.47m

US$ 433.20 m

2014

US$406.13 m

US$ 23.65 m

US$ 429.78 m

Major items of exports from India are diamonds, motor cars, auto-parts, pharmaceuticals, rice, while Lebanon is exporting aluminum and copper waste & scrap, tanned or crust hides & skins to India. There is considerable potential for expanding Indian exports in pharmaceuticals, textiles, designer fashions and accessories, tourism, information technology, education, fertilizers and chemicals, agricultural and processed food products, auto spare parts, construction, mining and electrical equipment. From Lebanon, India can source olive oil and wine.

Investment links: There is considerable potential for Indian investment in Lebanon in the energy sector, and in the information technology and infrastructure sectors. A couple of Lebanese companies have set up operations in India in the service sector. There is also potential for joint ventures between Lebanese and Indian companies in Africa and in reconstruction activities in the region.

B2B interaction:  In 2014, a 15-member delegation from the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) visited Lebanon from 28-31 May, 2014 and signed a Cooperation MoU with the Chamber of Commerce of Industry and Agriculture of Saida & South Lebanon (CCIAS).  A business delegation led by the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture visited India from 5-6 February, 2015.

Indian involvement in Lebanon’s hydrocarbon sector has been initiated with two Indian companies – ONGC Videsh Ltd [OVL] and Cairn India – having pre-qualified as “non-operators” along with 34 other companies to participate in the first Offshore Natural Gas Round initiated by the Lebanese government. They have now to join a consortium, which has to include at least one company from the 12 companies that have pre-qualified as “operators”, in order to participate in the next stage i.e. the bidding for specific blocks.   However, the project is stalled due to delays by the Lebanese government in passing necessary legislation.

Cultural Interaction: 

In October 2014, the CEP between Lebanon and India (ratified in 2000) was activated for the first time, with ICCR sending to Lebanon Sonam Kalra’s “Sufi Gospel Project” under CEP terms. Separately, the Embassy organized fusion Kathak and Bollywood show by Gurukul Dubai in Beirut, Saida and Tyre.  Exhibitions of Indian saris and photographs of Islamic
Architecture were also organized in Beirut and Tripoli.  The Embassy also organized the presentation of Indian handicrafts in three local exhibitions over the year.

            For the first time in many years, the Embassy distributed a special supplement on the occasion of Republic Day in two major Arabic newspapers in Lebanon - An-Nahar and As-Safir.

            Lebanon participated as the Partner Country in Surajkund Mela 2015 from 1st February to 15 February.

            Ms. Narbada Devi & Group visited Lebanon (1-5 April) to give Manipuri dance performances.  The group performed in Beirut, Saida and Tyre.  The performances were presented by the Embassy of India, in collaboration with ADLIR (Association for the development of Lebanese Indian Relations), and with the Safadi Cultural Foundation in Tripoli and Tiyatro Istanbouli in Tyre.

Nori Art and Puppetry Centre visited Lebanon from 22-26 April and gave five performances at Beirut, Saadneyal and Zahle.  The group also held three workshops catering to school children, teachers and social workers.

Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme: For 2015, India has offered 25 civilian slots and 10 slots for defence personnel. IT and English language courses are the most popular subjects, followed by Public Administration.

Indian Community in Lebanon

There are only a handful of persons of Indian origin in Lebanon, mainly women married to Lebanese citizens. The non-resident Indian community is also small, comprising around 8000 to 10000 workers, mainly employed in construction, sanitation, agriculture and factories. There are a few professionals holding managerial positions in companies such as the Landmark Group, a few holding civilian positions in UNIFIL and other UN agencies, and a couple of academics teaching in the American University of Beirut.

(As on 30 June, 2015)

Useful Resources:

For updates, please visit

Mission website: http://indianembassybeirut.org/

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/indianembassybeirut

Twitter link: India@Lebanon (@IndiainLebanon)

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvRsPw7PT5kiAn9dohhqgyA

 

*****

 

India & Lebanon

Stay Connected

  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • MEA Mobile App
  • Twitter

Queries/Feedback