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The New Arab

Coca Cola closes Lebanon operations amid deepening economic turmoil

Coca Cola will cease operations in Lebanon on May 31 [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 May, 2020

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Lebanon's National Beverage Company has said the country's economic turmoil has forced Coca Cola to permanently cease operations there.


Coca Cola is set to cease operations in Lebanon, according to a statement released by the chairman of the country's National Beverage Company, Aujan.

The statement from Aujan, which bottles and distributes for the soda giant in Lebanon, said the decision was due to major financial losses and Lebanon's escalating economic crisis.

The move will come into effect on May 31st. After this date, outlets wishing to stock Coca Cola products will have to import them from abroad or find alternatives.

Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic turmoil since the 1975-1990 civil war, compounded by measures to tackle a novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected 721 people and killed 24.

The Mediterranean nation has been rocked by a series of political crises in recent years.

Aujan announced the move in a statement on
Thursday 

[Click to enlarge]

Read more: Corruption, not coronavirus, is ravaging Lebanon

An economic crunch helped set off unprecedented cross-sectarian mass protests in October and unseated the last government.

The demonstrations had largely petered out after a new cabinet was tasked earlier this year with implementing urgent reforms to unlock billions in international aid.

But protesters have hit the streets again in recent days in defiance of the lockdown, railing against the slump in the pound and rocketing inflation.

Prices have risen by 55 percent, while 45 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to official estimates.

The government has yet to request financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, which has so far only provided technical assistance.

Experts have lobbied in favour of an IMF bail out which they say is the country's only escape route from its current slump, but some officials remain wary of the world body.

The government in March defaulted on its sovereign debt for the first time because of dwindling foreign currency reserves.

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