Lebanon achieved a major political breakthrough in October 2016; it ended a two-year standoff between various political groups which had prevented the election of a consensus president to succeed Michel Sulaiman after his term ended in May 2014. But sizeable structural problems persist and its attempt to cobble together a budget for 2017 after failing to do so for the past 12 years is unsurprisingly proving to be an uphill struggle.

The disruptive headwinds from the ongoing conflict in Syria, which brought into Lebanon more than 1.5 million refugees, also led to a deterioration in economic conditions. GDP growth fell to around 1% in 2016, with the IMF forecasting 2% in 2017. (CONTINUED - 1147 WORDS)