Lebanon, which lost its wheat reserves following the 2020 Beirut port blast, is struggling to find new markets that meet its bread qualifications due to the war on Ukraine, the country's minister of trade and economy told CNNs Becky Anderson.
Lebanon imports 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and is “the most vulnerable state” in the Middle East and North Africa region due to its weakened economy, said the trade and economy minister, Amin Salam.
“We have been in touch with a number of countries, including the US, France, India, Kazakhstan … because we really need small quantities in Lebanon given the size of the population,” Salam said.
The minister said the country is looking for support from these wheat producers as it struggles with challenges related to the economy and low purchasing power.
“Lebanon has not recovered yet from the global inflation on food and commodities after Covid-19, now we have this issue that adds another layer of difficulty at a time where Lebanon is struggling with the economy," Salam said.
An International Monetary Fund negotiating delegation is currently in Lebanon meeting officials in extensive meetings to reach an agreement for an economic rescue deal, Salam said.
“We are hoping that we will have very soon a staffing agreement in place,” he said.
“We know that our national reserves are at a very difficult place, but we are very confident that the IMF agreement will help Lebanon get out of the crisis," Salam said.
Salam denied that Lebanon’s Central Bank is bankrupt but it is at a stage that is looking at the national reserves directly impacting all depositors.
“That it is why it is very important to put IMF together now to avoid getting into this difficult spot,” he said.