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Lebanon This Week 549

August 25, 2018
Lebanon This Week 549
Net Profits of the Insurance Sector (US$ million)
Source: Insurance Control Commission, Byblos Research

  • Net profits of insurance sector up 20% to $167m in 2017
    Figures released by the Insurance Control Commission (ICC) show that the declared net profits of 50 licensed insurance companies in Lebanon reached $167.2m in 2017, constituting an increase of 19.8% from $139.6m in 2016. Net profits from the life category accounted for 65.7% of the sector's net earnings in 2017 relative to 59% in 2016, while those from the non-life segment represented 34.3% of the total compared to 41% in the previous year. The sector's net profit margin reached 11% in 2017, up from 8.9% in 2016. Further, net investment income of the insurance sector totaled $131.5m in 2017 and grew by 0.9% from the preceding year. The sector's return on assets increased from 3% in 2016 to 3.6% in 2017, while its return on equity rose from 12.8% in 2016 to 14.7% in 2017. 

    In parallel, the sector's gross written premiums totaled $1.5bn in 2017, down by 2.8% from 2016. They consisted of net premiums that regressed by 1.9% to $1.2bn, policy fees that declined by 7.6% to $219.6m, and the cost of policies that reached $102.4m in 2017 compared to $103.6m in 2016.

    Further, net income from the life category totaled $109.9m in 2017 and increased by 33.3% year-on-year, mainly due to a rise of 210.6% in unit-linked net investment income, while net profits from the non-life category amounted to $57.4m and expanded by 0.3% in 2017. The results of the non-life branch show that the health insurance category generated net profits of $15.6m in 2017, followed by the accidents insurance category with $14.5m, fire insurance with $12.9m, motor with $4.4m, civil liability insurance with $3.2m, transportation coverage with $2.7m and contractors all risk insurance with $0.8m. Profits from the contractors all risk segment surged by 146.1% in 2017, those from the civil liability segment rose by 53.7%, net income from the accidents insurance segment increased by 10%, and profits from the fire insurance segment grew by 9.8% year-on-year. In contrast, profits from the transportation insurance segment declined by 59.6%, while those from health insurance regressed by 27% in 2017. In parallel, the credit insurance segment incurred net losses of $0.5m in 2017, nearly doubling from the previous year, while the motor segment posted profits of $4.4m in 2017 compared to losses of $2.2m in 2016.

    Further, the sector's gross paid claims reached $904.8m in 2017 and grew by 1.2% from 2016. Also, general expenditures totaled $447m in 2017, down by 4.4% from the previous year, and included $221.7m in brokerage expenses and $170.7m in administration costs, while net reinsurance expenditures reached $51.3m in 2017 and declined by 13.4% from 2016.

  • Consumer Price Index up 6.2% in first seven months of 2018
    The Central Administration of Statistics' Consumer Price Index increased by 6.2% year on-year in the first seven months of 2018 compared to a growth of 4.2% in the same period of 2017. The CPI increased by 7.6% in July 2018 from the same month of 2017. The prices of water, electricity, gas & other fuels grew by 17% year-on-year in July 2018, followed by the prices of clothing & footwear (+14.6%), transportation costs (+12.9%), recreation & entertainment costs (+7.8%), actual rents (+6.1%), the prices of food & non-alcoholic beverages (+6%), healthcare costs (+5.9%), the cost of education (+4.1%), imputed rents (+3.8%), prices at restaurants & hotels (+3.5%), the prices of furnishings & household equipment (+2.9%), miscellaneous goods & services costs (+2.5%), the prices of alcoholic beverages & tobacco (+2%) and communication costs (+1%). The distribution of actual rents shows that old rents grew by 10.1% annually in July 2018, while new rents increased by 3.3% year-on-year. 

    Further, the CPI regressed by 0.2% in July 2018 from the preceding month compared to a month-on-month increase of 0.9% in June 2018. The CPI increased by 0.1% month-on-month in July 2018 in the South. In contrast, the CPI regressed by 0.9% in the North, by 0.6% in Beirut and by 0.2% in Nabatieh, while it was unchanged in the Bekaa and Mount Lebanon from the previous month. In parallel, the Fuel Price Index decreased by 1.3% month-on-month in July 2018, while the Education Price Index was unchanged from June.

  • Exports of food & beverage products up 2% to $500m in 2017
    The Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIB) indicated that the exports of Lebanese food and beverage (F&B) products accounted for 18% of the country's total exports in 2017, which makes the F&B industry the second largest exporter in Lebanon behind the jewelry sector. The Lebanese F&B industry produces a variety of national foods and beverages, which include alcoholic beverages, confectionery, bakery products, olive oil, pickles, preserves, spices, condiments, and processed and canned fruits & vegetables. 

    F&B exports reached $500.2m in 2017, up by 1.9% from $491m in 2016, while the imports of food and beverages were nearly unchanged at $1.9bn last year. As such, the sector's trade deficit narrowed slightly to $1.36bn in 2017. 

    Syria was the main export destination of Lebanese F&B exports with $82.8m, or 16% of F&B exports, in 2017. Saudi Arabia followed with $62m (12.3%), then Iraq with $39.5m (7.8%), the U.S. $33m (6.5%), Qatar with $28.7m (5.7%), the UAE with $28.1m (5.6%) and Egypt with $20.7m (4.1%). Exports of prepared vegetables, fruits and nuts reached $108.3m, representing 21.6% of total F&B exports in 2017. Exports of prepared edible products followed with $94.4m (18.8%), then those of sugar and confectionery products with $68.9m (13.8%), and beverages with $60m (12%).

    The CCIB pointed out that Lebanon's competitive advantages include its climate diversity, soil fertility, abundant water resources, relatively cheap but skilled agricultural labor force, and its geographic proximity to Arab and European export markets. However, it said that the lack of an upgraded infrastructure, poor water management systems, power supply deficiencies, high energy costs, underdeveloped waste management systems, as well as the lack of modern technologies, technical assistance, and research & development services are the main challenges to the sector's competitiveness. 

    In parallel, the distribution of F&B imports shows that imports of dairy products to Lebanon reached $316.6m, or 17.1% of F&B imports to the country in 2017, followed by those of cereals and milk with $278.6m (15%), prepared edible products with $216m (11.6%), and sugars and confectionery products with $203.3m (11%). France was the main source of imports of F&B products with $147.5m, or 7.9% of F&B imports to Lebanon in 2017. Turkey followed with $131.2m (7.1%), then Saudi Arabia with $96.9m (5.2%), Germany with $90.4m (4.9%), Egypt with $85.4m (4.6%), the United Kingdom with $79.2m (4.3%), the U.S with $62.7m (3.4%), Argentina with $61.2m (3.3%), and Italy with $60.2m and Brazil with $60.1m (3.2% each).

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