Canada and Lebanon have strong ties. The Lebanese community in Canada includes between 200,000 and 400,000 people and an estimated 60,000-75,000 Canadians live in Lebanon. The relationship is strengthened by close cultural ties and common participation in La Francophonie.
Canada is represented in Lebanon by its embassy in Beirut and increased its diplomatic presence there in response to the crisis in Syria. Lebanon is represented in Canada by its embassy in Ottawa.
Since 2016, Canada has committed over $427 million to support Lebanon’s stability and resilience as it copes with the effects of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the catastrophic explosion at the Beirut port in 2020. Lebanon now hosts more than an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees that have been added to the country’s already existing refugee population, which also includes Palestinians, Iraqis and Kurds.
Lebanon was the single largest source for Canada’s accelerated Syrian refugee resettlement efforts in 2015 to 2017. Of the more than 60,000 Syrian refugees who were resettled in Canada, over 30,000 – more than half - came from Lebanon.
Canada’s Middle East Strategy, first announced in 2016, was renewed in 2021 through 2022. Between 2016 and 2022 Canada will have committed over $4 billion humanitarian, development, military, and stabilization and security assistance for the region, including Lebanon, with an emphasis on building stability, governance, and long-term resilience.
In the immediate aftermath of the August 4, 2020 explosion of the Port of Beirut, Canada provided $30 million in emergency humanitarian assistance and early-recovery support, and then announced another $20 million in August 2021 to support the economic recovery of Beirut. This funding has helped trusted partners address immediate humanitarian needs and is supporting efforts for early recovery and resilience.
Despite Lebanon’s economic challenges, Canada's bilateral trade has increased in recent years. While bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Lebanon grew to $157 million in 2019 (up 60% from 2013), recent data points to a steep downturn. In 2020, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Lebanon was $109.7 million, a 30% reduction from 2019, largely due to falling Lebanese imports of Canadian goods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lebanon’s dwindling purchasing power.
Key sectors for Canada include agriculture/agri-foods products, and life sciences.
Key sectors for Lebanon include tourism, education, agriculture, agri-food, and life sciences.
Canada’s top merchandise exports to Lebanon include:
- Vehicle parts;
- Agri-foods (in particular wheat and legumes);
- Pharmaceuticals and other industrial and consumer goods.
Agri-foods constitute the majority of Canada’s imports from Lebanon. Canadian companies and institutions are present in Lebanon in multiple sectors, including:
- Information communication technologies;
- Consumer products;
- Agri-food and;
- Education and health.
As of December 2019, there were 1,035 study permits issued to Lebanese students to study in Canada. This number does not include the many Lebanese-Canadians currently studying in Canada on a Canadian passport.
Under Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy, Canada is supporting Lebanon to withstand the strain of hosting more than one million refugees and recover from the Beirut explosion, in a context of political instability, an ongoing financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s development assistance supports Lebanon in coping with the cumulative impacts of these crises by promoting gender equality and increasing the socio-economic well-being of the most vulnerable, in particular women and girls, crisis-affected host communities and Syrian refugees.
Canadian programming is improving women and girls’ access to education, health and protection services. This includes special attention to sexual and reproductive health, and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence, child and early marriage.
Canada’s support of Lebanon’s security and social stability includes projects that aim to reduce tensions between refugees and host communities under pressures, as well as community security projects that strengthen the capacity of local police services and the Lebanese Armed Forces to prevent and respond to conflict and violent acts of extremism.
In addition, Canada, through the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, supports multilateral initiatives that aim to counter violent extremism, to prevent the infiltration of foreign fighters and to secure Lebanon’s borders. In support of Canada’s training and assistance program in Lebanon, Canada has also donated non-lethal equipment and support vehicles to the Lebanese Armed Forces to enhance their capacity to secure and monitor border regions. Such efforts are in-line with broader capacity-building efforts in the region, which include similar lines of engagement in Jordan and in Iraq.
The neighboring Syrian conflict presents a continuous threat to Lebanon’s security and stability. In partnership with Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, a Canadian Armed Forces Training Assistance Team (CTAT) is based in Lebanon to undertake capacity-building initiatives through Operation IMPACT that support efforts to secure the Lebanon-Syria border. Since 2019, Lebanon has participated in Canada’s Military Training and Cooperation Program.
Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was established at The Hague, the Netherlands, to investigate the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and other victims. Canada has supported the STL from the outset and has made contributions valued at over $7 million to it, including secondments of Canadian police officers. The STL’s first two prosecutors were Canadians, and Canada is the vice-chair of the STL Management Committee.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Lebanon work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
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